December 3, 2004


Bush's USDA Nominee Has Deep Farming Roots: Diverse interest groups praise the selection of Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, a longtime agriculture advocate, to replace Ann Veneman. (Edwin Chen, December 3, 2004, LA Times)

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, nominated by President Bush on Thursday to be the next Agriculture secretary, grew up on an Iowa dairy farm and has traveled widely to promote farm products from Nebraska, where he has served as governor for two terms.

If confirmed by the Senate, Johanns, 54, would succeed Ann M. Veneman, a Californian, as head of the 113,000-employee department.

His appointment was hailed by a cross-section of interest groups with often-competing positions on issues that come before the agency. Some Democrats from the Plains states also praised Johanns' appointment.

In a brief ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Bush hailed Johanns as a son of the heartland who "grew up close to the land" and who had long been "a faithful friend to America's farmers and ranchers."

Two years ago, Johanns became the first Republican to be reelected governor of Nebraska in almost half a century. He traveled around the world to promote Nebraska agricultural products. But he also stayed in touch at home, visiting each of the state's 93 counties.

As governor, Johanns promoted tax relief, opposed pay raises for public officials, vetoed a moratorium on the death penalty and, in a move that earned him the support of many unions in the state, supported a meatpacking workers' bill of rights after shoddy workplace practices were exposed.

Setting aside George Washington's Cabinet as unmatchable, George Bush's first Cabinet may have finally found a challenger for best ever, his Second.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 3, 2004 9:27 AM

The Reynolds wrap guy in Treasury wasn't the best pick, thank heavens he is gone.

Posted by: pchuck at December 3, 2004 10:32 AM


I'd rather have him than Under-performin' Norman.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 3, 2004 11:23 AM