Obama hasn’t named USDA food safety undersecretary

Source of Article:  http://www.agweek.com/articles/?id=4363&article_id=14359&property_id=41


Jerry Hagstrom,Agweek
Published: 06/08/2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama has not nominated an Agriculture Department undersecretary for food safety because the administration has had a hard time finding a candidate who has not engaged in lobbying, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said June 4.

Speaking to reporters after appearing before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the fiscal year 2010 budget, Vilsack said the administration wants to follow its own rule “to make sure people haven’t had lobbying experience” and is thoroughly vetting all candidates. Lobbyists say it is hard for USDA to fully participate in congressional consideration of the food safety reform and modernization bill without an undersecretary in place. USDA handles food safety for meat, poultry and eggs and the undersecretary for food safety sets policy and handles international food safety relations.

At the hearing, Vilsack said he is coordinating broadband policy with Commerce Secretary Locke and that he hopes that by the end of June he can issue rules for applications for the broadband loans and grant program contained in the economic stimulus package. Vilsack confirmed the agency is hiring 40 people to handle broadband applications.

Several senators complained about Obama’s proposal to phase out direct payments to farmers with sales of more than $500,000 and to cut conservation programs. Vilsack said the administration made the proposals to come up with $1 billion to increase the budget for child nutrition programs. But he added that the administration will work with Congress to find savings in other ways.




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