WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to consider the nominations of Gregory Ibach, of Nebraska, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and William Northey, of Iowa, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
“This Committee has been reviewing nominations expeditiously,” said Roberts. “It is crucial to have leadership tending to these very important mission areas at the Department of Agriculture.”
“Both Mr. Ibach and Mr. Northey have valuable ‘boots-on-the-ground’ experience. They are both farmers. They know what weighs on the minds of farmers and ranchers, the challenges they face on daily basis, and the focus and drive they put into their life’s work. And, significantly, they are both dedicated public servants who have led their home state’s agriculture departments.”
Click here to watch the hearing.
Per Committee Rules, a Committee vote on the nominations must occur in a separate business meeting of the Committee.
Click here to watch Chairman Roberts' opening statement. Below is Chairman Roberts’ opening statement as prepared for delivery:
I call this hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order.
I thank my colleagues for joining me in reviewing the nominations of the individuals before us today—Mr. Gregory Ibach of Nebraska for the position of Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Mr. William Northey of Iowa for the position of Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
This Committee has been reviewing nominations expeditiously. It is crucial to have leadership tending to these very important mission areas at the Department of Agriculture.
Secretary Perdue, the Department’s 29 agencies and offices, and nearly 100,000 employees have been covering the bases.
However, they need help in carrying out these missions on behalf of American farmers, ranchers, consumers and businesses.
The Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, to which Mr. Ibach has been nominated, oversees key programs and offices at the department.
This Under Secretary leads activities related to plant health, animal care, veterinary services, wildlife management, promotion of U.S. commodities, regulation of biotechnology and its labeling on food, organics and many other responsibilities.
This diverse range of responsibilities requires an individual at the helm who has equally diverse skills and experience. Anyone familiar with Mr. Ibach’s background knows he is well suited to this role.
The position of Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services to which Mr. Northey has been nominated oversees the commodity, producer lending, crop insurance, conservation, and disaster programs.
While the Committee is considering the nomination for the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services role, the expectation is that subsequent legislation will officially change the name of the role to the Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
Along with the Farm Service Agency, and the Risk Management Agency, Secretary Perdue’s proposed reorganization will also bring the Natural Resources Conservation Service into a producer- and customer-focused mission area.
Both Mr. Ibach and Mr. Northey have valuable “boots-on-the-ground” experience.
They are both farmers. They know what weighs on the minds of farmers and ranchers, the challenges they face on daily basis, and the focus and drive they put into their life’s work.
And, significantly, they are both dedicated public servants who have led their home state’s agriculture departments.
I’m pleased the Committee is considering your nominations today.
Getting you both to work at the Department is critical, because the roles to which you have each been nominated carry out functions related to the Department’s day-to-day interaction with farmers and ranchers, or that impact their daily lives.
These nominees have the support of more than 60 farm and conservation organizations. Without objection I am entering the letters of support into the record.
We have a good record to date, and it is my hope that the Committee consider and approve your nominations as quickly as possible so we can send them to the full Senate for consideration.
I look forward to your testimony, and I now turn to my colleague, Senator Stabenow, for her opening remarks.