Nebraska’s ag director nominated for USDA position | TheFencePost.com

Nebraska’s ag director nominated for USDA position

Gregory Ibach

After 12 years with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Director Greg Ibach has been nominated for a new position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

President Donald Trump announced Sept. 1 his intent to nominate Ibach as the under secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

The position oversees the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agriculture Marketing Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

"Greg brings outstanding experience to this role," said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts in a Sept. 1 news release. "While we will miss Greg's day-to-day presence here in Nebraska, he will continue to be a resource for Nebraska as we partner with him in his new role as well as a tremendous asset to the USDA and President Trump's Administration."

According to the release, Ibach's time as director in Nebraska will help him as the undersecretary, pointing to health programs for animals and plants in Nebraska, along with the state's disease tractability program for livestock.

The undersecretary position needs senate confirmation; so far, the only senate-confirmed USDA position that's been filled is Secretary Sonny Perdue.

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"Greg Ibach will bring the experience and vision necessary to serve as a first-rate (undersecretary) for MRP at USDA. His exemplary tenure as Nebraska's director of agriculture places him squarely in tune with the needs of American agriculture, particularly the cattle industry," Perdue said in a news release. "His proven track record of leadership will make him a great asset to USDA's customers, the hard working, taxpaying people of U.S. agriculture."

Last year, Ibach helped lead an effort to promote the state's beef in China when the country was on the verge of lifting a 13-year ban on U.S. beef. According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, Nebraska accounted for about 20 percent of the U.S. beef exports.

But Ibach didn't just settle for improving relations with China after trading restrictions were lifted. In August 2016, Ibach represented Nebraska when the state and Taiwanese representatives signed letters of intent to purchase Nebraska agricultural products.

The agreement added Nebraska beef and pork along with wheat, corn, soybeans and distiller's grain. Previously beef and pork products weren't part of the agreement. Taiwan was one of the countries to ban U.S. beef imports after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, outbreak in the early 2000s.

The agreement was for Taiwan to purchase more than $400 million worth of Nebraska ag products.

Ibach was nominated the same day Bill Northey and Stephen Vaden were nominated for two other USDA positions that require senate confirmation. Northey was nominated for the undersecretary of farm production and conservation, a new position at the USDA added earlier this year as part of the department's reorganization. Vaden was nominated to be general counsel for the USDA.

USDA has 10 undersecretary positions that are nominated by the president and need senate confirmation. Of the 13 USDA positions that require a nomination and Senate confirmation, there have been seven nominations and one confirmation: Perdue.

Of the six nominees, three were named prior to the August recess, including nominee Sam Clovis to the undersecretary for research, education and economics position. According to The Hagstrom Report, there was still paperwork missing for Clovis.

Hearings for Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney are scheduled for Sept. 19. They're nominated for deputy secretary and undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, respectively. The two were nominated in July.

Ibach, Northey and Vaden were nominated on Sept. 1, and Congress returned from its recess on Sept. 5.

"I look forward to the confirmations of Greg Ibach, Bill Northey and Stephen Vaden, and urge the Senate to take up their nominations as quickly as possible," Perdue said. ❖

USDA positions that need senate approval

Approved by senate

Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

USDA nominees awaiting senate approval

Deputy Secretary, Stephen Censky, nominated July 2017

Undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, Greg Ibach, nominated September 2017

Undersecretary for farm production and conservation*, Bill Northey, nominated September 2017

Undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs*, Ted McKinney, nominated July 2017

Undersecretary for research, education and economics, Sam Clovis, nominated July 2017

General Counsel, Stephen Vaden, nominated September 2017

USDA undersecretary positions awaiting nomination from President Donald Trump

Natural resources and environment

Food safety

Food, nutrition and consumer services

Civil rights

Congressional relations

Administration

Rural development**

*New position added after reorganization

** As part of the USDA reorganization efforts, the position of undersecretary of rural development was changed to the assistant to the secretary for rural development. Perdue appointed Anne Hazlett to the position in June. Hazlett is to report directly to Perdue and didn’t need a presidential nomination or senate approval. The Senate Appropriations Committee, however, in July, attempted to override the change when it voted to approve a funding bill in July which kept the position as it was prior to the reorganization. There hasn’t been a change in the USDA to reflect that.