Another USDA nominee has been approved by the full Senate. Former Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate on Thursday. Once sworn in, Ibach will serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
Ibach sat alongside Iowa’s Bill Northey as both men faced a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on October 5. Northey is the designee for the newly-created post of Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
Both men were expected to be confirmed quickly, but Northey’s nomination was held up, at first by a paperwork glitch over his title and then later by a hold from Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). According to a spokesman for Lee, the senator had lifted his hold, but Senator Cruz’s block on the nomination remains.
Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, speculated on the AgriTalk radio show that the hold is “purely for retaliatory reasons.” Dinneen said, “He [Cruz] doesn’t like what happened last week and the fact that [EPA Administrator] Scott Pruitt has affirmed his support for the RFS.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt backed off a plan for reduced volume targets for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) last week after Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst threatened to block EPA nominees.
Senator Ted Cruz did not respond to a request for comment.
“Greg Ibach will bring experience and integrity to his new role at USDA, and carries with him the knowledge he’s gained in the dozen years he has served as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a released statement. “His expertise in a wide cross-section of agricultural issues will be invaluable to our customers: the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers of America. I look forward to working with Greg and urge the Senate to continue to act on other nominees who are awaiting confirmation.”
Listen to Bob Dinneen’s comments on the Bill Northey nomination hold on AgriTalk Radio in the player above.