The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Senate confirms Scuse as Ag undersecretary, as Johanns calls for study of USDA trade function

Michael Scuse

Michael Scuse

The Senate Thursday confirmed Michael Scuse as Agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services and as a member of the board of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Scuse has been serving as acting undersecretary since Jim Miller, the first Obama administration appointee in that post, left to join the Senate Budget Committee staff and work on the next farm bill. Scuse was previously deputy undersecretary.

Before joining the Obama administration, Scuse was Delaware agriculture secretary and served as president of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.
Oddly, his confirmation came the same day that Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., convinced the Senate Agriculture Committee to include in the 2012 farm bill a study of whether the Agriculture Department’s trade function should be reorganized and a separate position of undersecretary for trade be established.

Johanns, a former Agriculture secretary, said the study would analyze USDA’s role in both imports and exports. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said that he supported the study because “the United States does not spend enough time on trade.”

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., also expressed support for the Johanns amendment, and the committee included it in the bill it later approved.

The undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services supervises the Farm Service Agency, which distributes domestic subsidies, the Foreign Agricultural Service, which promotes U.S. exports and analyzes production in other countries, and the Risk Management Agency, which oversees the crop insurance program.