The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Obama nominates new CFTC chief, while ag groups seek ag-oriented commissioner

Timothy Massad

Timothy Massad
President Barack Obama nominated a Treasury Department official as the new chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission today while a coalition of key agriculture groups asked the president to nominate someone with an agricultural background to succeed Commissioner Bart Chilton, who recently announced he will step down soon.

At a ceremony in the State Dining Room, Obama nominated Timothy Massad, noting that Massad has had “the thankless task of winding down a program that no one ever particularly liked, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP.”

Obama said under Massad's watch, “not only have the banks that benefited from TARP repaid nearly every single dollar, but he has secured a positive return of nearly $30 billion to the American taxpayer.”

Obama also said that Massad has “a commitment to transparency and openness that I know that he wants to continue at the CFTC.”

The president also praised outgoing chairman Gary Gensler and his staff.

“Under his watch, the CFTC has transformed what was a secretive and shadowy derivatives market by bringing large parts of it onto exchanges to transparent trading,” Obama said.

“And CFTC is working hand in hand with other agencies to protect consumers by implementing the Volcker Rule, which Secretary Lew has called on regulators to complete by the end of the year,” the president said.

“They’ve successfully imposed nearly $1.8 billion in penalties against financial firms that engaged in rate-fixing schemes. They worked to make sure that an irresponsible few can’t hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging energy markets for their own gain. And they’ve done it all while a swarm of special interest lobbyists have done everything possible to thwart their every move.”

Meanwhile, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and commodity groups signed a letter urging Obama to appoint someone with an agricultural background to replace Chilton on the commission.

“Commissioner Chilton had an extensive agricultural background having worked on agricultural policy issues in the U.S. Senate and USDA before taking a key position at an agricultural trade group,” the groups wrote.

“His departure leaves the agricultural industry without a commissioner with background in our market sector,” the letter said. “Therefore, we believe it is critically important to nominate, and the Senate confirm, at least one of the vacant commissioner seats to an individual with a working understanding of agricultural futures markets and our industry.”