Daily News Archive
From January 2, 2001

Bush Announces Top Choice for USDA Secretary

On December 20, 2000, President-elect George W. Bush announced Ann Veneman, former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture under Republican Governor Pete Wilson, was his top choice for secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Ms. Veneman has experience with the USDA having served as a deputy secretary under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush (1986-93). Currently she is working as an attorney in a private practice.

According to the New York Times, while representatives of farming, timber and mining groups applauded her selection, environmental groups and organizations representing small farmers called Ms. Veneman a troubling choice. They point out that as a strong proponent of free-market trade (she helped negotiate GATT) and multiple-uses for public lands - and as a chairwoman of Mr. Bush's campaign in California - she would favor a larger role for business and a retreat from policies that have helped family farms and protected national forest lands.

Environmentalists are also concerned over Ms. Veneman's stance on genetically modified crops, given her position on the board of the Calgene Corporation, a biotechnology company actively involved with producing genetically modified agricultural crops.