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Serving: United States

Who will lead Biden's ag department?

taspencer/ThinkstockPhotos USDA Building view from street
Eight people, hailing from Maine to California, are reportedly being considered for top post at USDA.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced his first cabinet picks on Monday, among them Tony Blinken as secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and John Kerry as "climate tsar," The Guardian reported.

Other appointments include: Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary; Avril Haines as national intelligence director and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the United Nations.

Last week, we compiled a list of who was being considered to run the EPA. This week, we bring you the list of who's being considered to head the Agriculture Department.

Names in the news

Biden's climate plan calls for harnessing the power of agriculture to capture and store carbon while innovating to reduce its own carbon footprint, The Hill reports.

In her column, DC Dialgue, Jacqui Fatka says former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and Russell Redding, Pennsylvania agriculture commissioner, top the list of potential agriculture secretaries in a Biden-Harris administration. Other names mentioned include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a 2020 presidential hopeful, and Kathleen Merrigan, the first agriculture deputy secretary in the Obama administration.

Fudge, a Democrat, argues she's best positioned to take the lead of the agency. She is a longtime member of the House Agriculture Committee and serves as chairwoman of the Nutrition Subcommittee. She would be the first African American woman to direct the USDA, Politico reports.

Heitkamp, a Democrat, was considered for the top job at USDA by President Trump. Politico reports that she has strong moderate credentials, but she is opposed by environmentalists because of her support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Rep. Cheri Bustos sits on the House Agriculture Committee is also being considered, Politico reports.

Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who is an organic farmer, is favored by progressive groups. Pingree has been an advocate for small and organic farms, the Sun Journal reported.

Rep. Collin Peterson, who lost his bid for re-election, is known for working across the aisle. He has been a force in shaping several farm bills, the Star Tribune reported.

Here's the list:

  1. North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp,
  2. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio
  3. Russell Redding, Pennsylvania agriculture commissioner
  4. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois,
  5. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine,
  6. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota,
  7. California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and
  8. Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse.
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