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SENATE AG CHAIRMAN'S OPENING COMMENTS ON CENSKY, MCKINNEY NOMINATIONS
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry news release

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to consider the nominations of Stephen Censky, of Missouri, to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture; and Ted McKinney, of Indiana, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"Secretary Perdue and his team have hit the ground running to keep the Department working on behalf of the nation's farmers, ranchers, and other rural stakeholders," said Chairman Roberts. "But, we need to get his team officially on board."

"The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture is the second-highest-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. More important, he becomes Acting Secretary if the Secretary is unable to perform his duties."

"The position of Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs was established by this Committee, with strong bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill. It is designed to provide a singular focus on trade at the Department, and to foster more effective coordination of trade policies across USDA agencies. In addition, it will bring high level representation to key trade negotiations, foreign officials, and within the Executive Branch."

Per Committee Rules, a Committee vote on the nominations must occur in a separate business meeting of the Committee.

Below is Chairman Roberts' opening statement as prepared for delivery:

I call this hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order.

I welcome my colleagues this morning as we consider the nominations of Stephen Censky to be the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Ted McKinney to be the Undersecretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is made up of 29 agencies and offices. And, it employs nearly 100,000 men and women who work in all 50 states and all around the globe. The Department provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, scientific research, and related issues that impact Americans each and every day.

Secretary Perdue and his team have hit the ground running to keep the Department working on behalf of the nation's farmers, ranchers, and other rural stakeholders. But, we need to get his team officially on board.

The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture is the second-highest-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. More important, he becomes Acting Secretary if the Secretary is unable to perform his duties.

The position also coordinates day-to-day operations within the Department and efforts across agencies. The Deputy Secretary is tasked with implementing the departmental mission of fostering strong rural communities and creating new agricultural markets. The Deputy Secretary receives input from outside the Agency and stays up-to-date on issues and trends in the agriculture arena.

The nominee for this role, Steve Censky, grew up on a soybean, corn, and diversified livestock farm near Jackson, Minnesota. He began his career working as a legislative assistant for Senator Jim Abdnor (R-SD). Later, Steve served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture during both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations. More recently, he has served as the American Soybean Association's Chief Executive Officer.

Steve and his wife Carmen reside in suburban St. Louis and have two daughters who are in college. Steve, we welcome you to the Ag Committee.

The position of Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs was established by this Committee, with strong bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill. It is designed to provide a singular focus on trade at the Department, and to foster more effective coordination of trade policies across USDA agencies. In addition, it will bring high level representation to key trade negotiations, foreign officials, and within the Executive Branch.

Secretary Perdue moved quickly during his first month at the Department to follow the direction of Congress and establish this important position. The new Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs mission area will include the Foreign Agricultural Service, which deals with international markets, and the U.S. Codex Office, which is part of an interagency and international partnership that develops international governmental and non-governmental food standards.

If confirmed, Ted McKinney would be the first person to officially lead this mission. And, his background offers a range of experience for him to do exactly that job.

Ted grew up on a family grain and livestock farm in Tipton, Indiana. He is currently the director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Previously, Ted has worked with Dow AgroSciences and with Elanco. This gives him firsthand knowledge of potential trade issues in the row crop as well as livestock sectors. He and his wife Julie have three children and four grandchildren. Welcome to the Ag Committee.

Earlier this year, the Committee moved to confirm Secretary Perdue in a strong bipartisan fashion. And, we have successfully moved several nominations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. We look forward to considering these nominations in the same fashion. Today is an important step in that process.

Again, I thank the nominees for being here today, and I look forward to your testimony. I now turn to my colleague, Ranking Member Stabenow, for her opening remarks.


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