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From: TSS (
Subject: Farm groups not taking Veneman departure talk seriously
Date: November 5, 2004 at 2:12 pm PST

Farm groups not taking Veneman departure talk seriously

By Dan Looker
Business Editor
Successful Farming magazine

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman's name has popped up on some lists of cabinet members who may not serve in a second George W. Bush administration, but farm group lobbyists in Washington aren't taking the speculation too seriously yet.

Some news reports Thursday speculated that others, including farm trade negotiator Allen Johnson, might want Veneman's job.

"It doesn't appear to me that she's out of favor with the President," says Tom Buis of National Farmers Union. "Generally, I've always found that in these situations the people who are talking don't know and the people who know aren't talking."

Buis wouldn't be surprised if, at some point in a second term, Veneman does leave. It's been unusual for agriculture secretaries to serve eight years in recent history, with President Bill Clinton's second ag secretary, Dan Glickman, having one of the longer tenures of six years, Buis said.

Mary Kay Thatcher with American Farm Bureau Federation said little information seems to have leaked from President Bush’s meeting with his cabinet on Thursday. She said there had been speculation that if any cabinet members were asked to resign, that they would ask their politically appointed staff to resign with them. Thatcher said that she was not aware of any senior staff at USDA being asked to resign as of Friday.

Veneman's spokeswoman Alisa Harrison told Agricaulture Online that the President hasn't made a decision yet on about her boss.

"It's really up to the President to make decisions regarding his cabinet. That's something he'll be considering and working on this weekend," Harrison said.

Some farm groups were disappointed that Veneman's USDA didn't take a more active role in helping to write the 2002 Farm Bill, says one congressional staffer. "USDA's asleep. That was the phraseology at the time," he said.

Yet, the same staffer says, Veneman may have also had one of the most difficult jobs as ag secretary since Henry Wallace, who had to protect the nation's food supply under FDR during World War II. Veneman, too, has had to worry about food security from bioterrorism, as well as protecting the nation’s livestock from Britain's outbreak of hoof and mouth disease at the beginning of her first four years and Mad Cow disease near the end of Bush's first term. 11/05/2004 02:37 p.m. CDT


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