November, 2016

    December 5, 2016


    Names Emerging for Agriculture Secretary as Trump Transition Begins

    With President Elect Donald Trump’s success on election day, efforts to fill cabinet positions are underway.  While several nominations have been announced, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture is still uncertain.  Speculation continues about potential candidates for Secretary of Agriculture. 

    Names mentioned thus far include:

    • Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas
    • Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa
    • Chuck Conner, CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
    • Dave Heineman, Former Governor of Nebraska
    • Charles Herbster, Agri-businessman from Nebraska
    • Mike McCloskey, Dairy industry executive from Indiana
    • Sonny Perdue, Former Governor of Georgia
    • Rick Perry, Former Governor of Texas
    • Bruce Rastetter – Summit Ag Group of Alden, Iowa

    All of these people also currently serve on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, which was named in August 2016 to help guide the campaign’s agriculture policy.  The over 60-person committee includes Congressional leaders, former and current state elected officials and representatives from industry. 

    In addition to filling the top spot at USDA, there are large number of other appointed positions at USDA.  Helping to manage this transition process will be Joel Leftwich, who serves as the Senate Agriculture Committee Staff Director under Chairman Pat Roberts.

    Congressman Tom Price Selected for Secretary of HHS

    President elect Trump has announced his intention to nominate Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) as the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  While one of his first, and largest jobs, will be to address potential changes to Obamacare, he will also have responsibility for policies related to the Food and Drug Administration.  This includes the Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.  Price will be in an important position on issues including antibiotic resistance and food safety.  It is interesting to note that Price voted against the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which FDA is charged with implementing and enforcing. 

    2300 Scientists Write Open Letter to President-Elect Trump

    In response to President-Elect Donald Trump’s election victory, over 2300 scientists penned a letter calling for the new administration to respect and include scientific evidence in policy decisions.  The signers include 22 Nobel Prize winners.  The letter states, in part, that “People benefit when our nation’s policies are informed by science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence.” 

    Some have expressed concern with how the Trump Administration will address science.  Trump’s policy positions on science issues are largely undefined at this point.  However, he has shown skepticism regarding climate change and regulations related to global warming.  A recent Science Advisory Board survey showed that 72 percent of respondents were concerned about the impact that Trump would have on Science.

    Republicans Maintain Control of House and Senate

    The 2016 Congressional elections brought less change to the makeup of the House and Senate than was anticipated.  Democrats gained two seats in the Senate and six seats in the House.  However, Republicans will have control of the House, Senate and White House for the first time in decades.  Current House and Senate Agriculture Committee members fared well in the elections, with only Representative Brad Ashford (D-NE) being defeated.  While committee assignments for the next Congress have not been made, major changes in the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are not expected.

    FASS Authors Chapter in AAAS Report on FY 2017 R&D Funding

    On November 18th, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a report detailing the status of funding for science and technology in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations cycle.  FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the Intersociety Working Group and authored Chapter 20 addressing federal investments in science related to food security.  More information on the AAAS effort and a copy of the final report can be found by clicking here.