Skip to content

Chairwoman Stabenow Statement at Nominations Hearing for Dr. Basil Ivanhoe Gooden and Summer K. Mersinger

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following statement at a hearing to consider the nominations of Dr. Basil Ivanhoe Gooden to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development and the Honorable Summer K. Mersinger to be a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Live video of the hearing is available here.

Stabenow’s Statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Today, we are considering the nominations of Dr. Basil Gooden, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development, and the Honorable Summer Mersinger, of South Dakota, to serve a second term as a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

Both of these nominees were raised on farms and understand the needs of farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. 

I have three goals for the Farm Bill: keep farmers farming, keep families fed, and keep rural communities strong. The role of Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development is essential to all three. 

For the more than 46 million people who call rural America home, the USDA’s Rural Development mission area is a pathway to revitalizing their communities, creating new jobs, and improving their quality of life. 

As we know, the climate crisis and a changing economy are placing significant pressure on rural communities. Addressing these challenges will be no small undertaking, but I know that Dr. Gooden is up to the task. 

Dr. Gooden has a wealth of experience. He currently serves as the Director of State Operations for USDA Rural Development. He previously served as the third Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia State Director for Rural Development at USDA, and as the Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. 

Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Gooden understands the needs of rural America because he is from rural America. He and his family still own and operate a cattle farm in his native Buckingham County, Virginia. 

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also plays an essential role in our economy by stabilizing costs to feed our families and power our homes. Derivatives markets provide farmers and producers with tools they need to manage their business risks as they face extreme weather events and implement more climate-smart agricultural practices.

The derivatives markets are complex and constantly evolving, so the CFTC’s work to safeguard market integrity has never been more important. And the hardworking agency staff cannot do their jobs unless Congress does its job and provides the CFTC with sufficient, reliable funding.

We must also ensure that that our financial markets are fair for all customers, not just the most sophisticated. This principle extends to the digital asset market. As Congress considers how to regulate digital assets, we will need to lean on the experience of the Commission to make sure we get it right. 

With that, I’d like to welcome back Commissioner Mersinger. Hailing from a long line of Midwestern-farmers and ranchers, she knows firsthand that agricultural commodities are the backbone of our economy and understands the importance of well-functioning derivatives markets. 

As the sponsor of the CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee, she hears directly from energy producers and consumers about the challenges of modernizing our power grid and transitioning to clean and renewable resources. 

With this experience, Commissioner Mersinger is well-suited to help lead the CFTC.

Dr. Gooden and Commissioner Mersinger are both extremely qualified for the roles to which they have been nominated. I look forward to supporting their nominations and working closely with them once they are confirmed. 

With that I will turn to Ranking Member Boozman for any opening remarks he would like to make.