President Trump continues to fill positions across the administration. The latest news is the appointment of Kenneth Barbic to be USDA Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations. Barbic has been with Western Growers - a group representing local and regional farms growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after the announcement, and while he was glad for the nomination, he did observe other positions appointed but not yet confired:
“I am very excited by the nomination of Ken Barbic to fill this key role. Ken will bring a wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience to USDA, and I am eager to get him on the job right away,” Perdue said. “Unfortunately, two other qualified nominees, Bill Northey and Stephen Vaden, are still awaiting Senate confirmation. I urge the Senate to take up all three nominations as quickly as possible.”
In his role at Western Growers, Barbic has worked to advocate a number of issues including immigration reform, tax reform and the need to open international markets for U.S. agriculture. Barbic has also served as a leader in the Specialty Crop Farm Bill alliance and worked to develop recommendations for the 2014 Farm Bill.
Before joining Western Growers, Barbic was Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs from 2007 to 2009. In that role, he advocated on behalf of USTR on a range of issues including agriculture, labor and environment policy, trade preferences, WTO disputes and negotiations, as well as promoting passage of Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea.
From Bakersfield, Calif., Barbic started his career in Washington working with the House Ways and Means Committee. According to his profile on the Western Growers website his ag background includes summer jobs working in a vineyard and doing fruit inspection for an export company.
This brings to the Senate three USDA nominees. The Northey nomination is being held up in a dispute including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, over the renewable fuels debate. Northey has been nominated to serve as Undersecretary of Farm Production and Conservation. Vaden has been nominated to be USDA general counsel.
Source: USDA, Western Growers