Conner Approved in Senate for Deputy Secretary Post

Former White House agriculture adviser confirmed by unanimous consensus.

Charles (Chuck) Conner of Indiana was approved by unanimous consent on Wednesday in the Senate for his position as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

Conner, an Indiana native, is replacing former Deputy Secretary James Moseley. Prior to his confirmation, Conner was the top agriculture adviser in the White House.

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns congratulated Conner on his confirmation and recognized that "his many years as an outstanding public servant will be an important asset to enhancing USDA's many missions," Johanns says. "His management abilities and understanding of the opportunities facing America's farmers, ranchers and our rural communities in the 21st century will be an integral component to the success of USDA initiatives."

Also this week the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Ohio Republican Rep. Rob Portman's nomination for the head U.S. Trade Representative post.

The nomination now heads to the full Senate for final approval. Reports indicate Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has threatened to delay action on Portman's nomination until the Senate acts on legislation regarding trade with China.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman released a statement outline the importance of the full Senate confirming Portman's nomination with the same expediency as the finance committee did. Stallman explains Portman is needed during this critical stage in the World Trade Organization negotiations.

"It is also important that Rep. Portman's nomination be confirmed prior to congressional deliberations on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)," says Stallman. "As the U.S. Trade Representative, Rep. Portman would provide fundamental guidance to Congress for a vote on one of the most important trade agreements facing U.S. agriculture."

Portman is expected to have an easy confirmation once his nomination does come up for a full Senate vote. He would replace Robert Zoellick, who is now the top deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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