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Agri-Pulse reports:

Help should be on the way soon for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Steve Censky and Ted McKinney sailed through their Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, which took just over an hour. However, it will be next week at the earliest before the Senate Agriculture Committee can vote on their nominations. The Senate is in recess for the rest of this week for Rosh Hashanah.

Censky, the CEO of the American Soybean Association who is President Trump's pick as deputy agriculture secretary, used the hearing to outline a series of priorities to the committee that had strong bipartisan appeal. They included helping farmers adapt to climate change and expanding rural broadband.

McKinney, the nominee to be USDA's first undersecretary for trade, assured the committee he would be on the road regularly trying to increase exports.

More nominees are on the way, an administration source says, including President Trump's picks to lead congressional relations and the civil rights office.

Perdue surprises Censky and McKinney ahead of their hearing.

Grassley key for Clovis nomination. The confirmation hearing for Sam Clovis to be undersecretary for research won't be nearly as warm. Even Clovis' supporters admit that his hearing will likely be rough because of his past statements on race and other issues.

But the White House is determined to get him confirmed by the Senate, and Clovis was supposed to be interviewed by the Senate Agriculture Committee staff this week, a source tells Agri-Pulse.

Censky may have given Clovis some cover on the climate issue. Although Clovis has questioned the scientific consensus on climate change, Censky went a long way toward taking the issue off the table by promising the committee yesterday that USDA would use its research and extension programs to help agriculture become more resilient to climate change. Those are the very programs that Clovis would be in charge of.

The White House is counting heavily on Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa to shore up GOP support for Clovis. Grassley says it won't be clear how many Republicans will oppose Clovis on the Senate floor until the nomination comes out of committee.

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