Another Name Surfaces as Possible New Ag Secretary: John Boyd

November 13, 2008 06:00 PM

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CQ adds president of National Black Farmers Assn. as among Ag Secretary possibilities

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, is among those being vetted for Agriculture secretary in the Obama Cabinet, an individual with knowledge of the transition process said Thursday, according to Congressional Quarterly (CQ), a publication which earlier this week signaled the likely USDA Secretary would be former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Earlier this week the Washington Post called Vilsack a "near shoo-in."

Congressional Black Caucus members are backing Boyd, a fourth-generation farmer and civil rights activist, who ran unsuccessfully in 2000 for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat against then-independent Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., now a Republican.

CQ also reported that Boyd’s name also has been floated as a potential assistant Agriculture secretary for civil rights, where he could help ensure that the department complies with equal opportunity laws.

Boyd talks. Boyd said Tuesday that he would be happy to help Obama implement agriculture policy from inside or outside the administration. Like Obama, he supports tighter caps on farmer subsidies. “USDA needs a breath of fresh air,” he said. “I think there can be improvement with farm lending, outreach and technical assistance to small and mid-scale producers. . . . small producers really haven’t been a part of the American fabric at USDA under the Bush administration.”

At an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing in May, Boyd condemned the actions of an Agriculture official who allegedly sent an e-mail message to colleagues encouraging them to oppose a farm bill provision that would compensate black farmers for past discrimination.

Comments: This is, indeed, a parlor game. Other names will likely surface for the Agriculture spot, as are names for other Cabinet posts. For example, NBC News reported last evening that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) was in the running to be President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State (Clinton is reportedly in Chicago today for a possible "interview"). Other wow-type candidate possibilities for other posts include former Secretary of State Colin Powell for Obama's Education Secretary.

Meanwhile, members of various transition teams, including agriculture and trade, have been announced. I never get very excited about these "thank you for helping in the campaign" lists, because it is the actual Cabinet and key post-Cabinet nominees that are important, and that is why I will not waste my or your time commenting or even listing the transition names. Frankly, not many on those on transition teams actually end up with positions in an administration.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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