Oct 30 2017
By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
** Click here to download audio of this week’s column**
The Senate recently confirmed Nebraska Director of Agriculture, Gregory Ibach, unanimously to serve as Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). I am thrilled my friend and fellow Nebraskan will be serving America’s farmers and ranchers in this role. In Nebraska, we understand the importance of agriculture to our families and the economy. We also know what policies farmers and ranchers need from Washington.
Earlier this year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited our family ranch just south of Valentine. The Secretary and I hosted a conversation with some of our friends and neighbors about the different challenges they face. At the time, Greg was serving as Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and he joined us that day. A common refrain we all heard was that producers need more certainty from the government.
At USDA, Greg will be a strong voice for America’s producers who need regulatory relief. Greg is an agriculture expert who has extensive knowledge of the industry and its numerous contributions to Nebraska, our country, and the world. He has a remarkable background in agriculture that makes him incredibly well-suited for this position.
Nebraskans are agriculture leaders. We are known as the “Beef State” and currently rank number one in the nation for cattle on feed. Nebraska also boasts a diverse crop portfolio that ranges from corn and soybeans to wheat and sugar beets. This diversity puts Nebraska at the center of agriculture productivity and is the reason we need a Nebraskan at USDA.
Greg is a Nebraskan to the core. His passion for his job and extensive knowledge about production agriculture make him well qualified to serve the hardworking producers of rural America. I know because I have witnessed his dedication firsthand.
Last Congress, Greg and I worked closely together to reopen the Israeli market to Nebraska beef for the first time since 2003. Throughout this process, he showed a remarkable capacity to work with many different stakeholders at the local, state, and national level to ensure our producers could access this new opportunity. I know he’ll do the same kind of work in Washington.
As Under Secretary, Greg will oversee programs under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. These agencies focus on animal and plant health, promotion of U.S. commodities, and grain and livestock markets. With such a broad range of issues to cover, confirming him was vital to the future success of our ag producers. In his new position, Greg will serve America’s farmers and ranchers well. His vast experience in Nebraska will add a critical perspective to the work done by the USDA.
Nebraskans recognize that the past few years have been economically tough for farm country and the entire state. If our producers are to continue being global leaders in food, fiber, and fuel, they need regulatory certainty. With Greg at the USDA, we can now address more of burdensome red tape and bureaucratic ambiguity, that, for too long, we’ve seen coming out of the agency.
Although Secretary Perdue has brought positive change to the Department of Agriculture, more must be done. He needs a full team if he is to continue supporting and promoting American agriculture.
I look forward to working with Greg to provide more certainty for the producers in this country who feed a hungry world. Having a fully functioning USDA continues to be the best way to advance the goals of our nation’s agriculture producers. I will continue working on behalf of our ag producers in Washington to find ways to help them succeed.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.