Veteran food and agriculture lobbyist and former congressional and White House staffer Michael Torrey announced his departure from the Trump USDA transition team Friday amid controversy over his lobbying role. American Farm Bureau Federation’s Dale Moore called it a selfless move.
“There had been some controversy the fact that Mike is a lobbyist like I am and most of the agriculture family here in town,” he said. “I think it was his choice and his decision to step aside so that some of the folks who were making an issue of that would have to look somewhere else for fodder for their stories.”
Moore says AFBF is anxious to see who will replace Torrey and who will fill cabinet posts that are key for agriculture.
“As disappointing as that was to us, just again because we had a lot of confidence in Mike, we’re hopeful that whoever they get to fill his shoes, we’re anticipating that’s somebody we all know well and can all work with. Then it also kind of points directly to when President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence make their decisions and announcements on who the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Interior, EPA, USTR, you know those in particular for agriculture are very important cabinet positions.”
Moore would not speculate on names, but several have been rumored including present or former governors, state ag commissioners and a former USDA deputy secretary, Chuck Connor from Indiana. Other Hoosier farm leaders, Ted McKinney and Don Villwock included, continue to be considered according to various media outlets.
Moore says AFBF will have to be ready to “hit the ground running” no matter who Trump picks. He says outgoing Secretary Tom Vilsack’s team has committed to a smooth hand-off.