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Gov. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), who grew up as the child of Iowa dairy farmers, was named yesterday by President Bush to replace Ann Veneman as Secretary of Agriculture in the administration’s second term.

The Des Moines Register reports this morning that “the nomination of a well-regarded Midwest governor is good for farmers who grow corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle - the region's major commodities - and for the booming ethanol industry. Johanns, an ally of agribusiness interests, has been a vocal advocate of ethanol, the corn-based gasoline additive, and he has traveled extensively to promote international trade since his election in 1998.”

The paper also noted that Johanns has “clashed with some farmers over proposals to weaken Nebraska's tough ban on corporate farming and speed the development of large-scale hog farms.”

USDA is one of the government's largest departments, with 113,000 employees and an annual budget of about $80 billion.
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