GM crop promoter becomes Bush's new Ag Secretary (5/12/2004)

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President Nominates Governor Mike Johanns as Secretary of Agriculture

The Roosevelt Room

President's Remarks

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Good morning.

I am pleased to announce my nomination of Governor Mike Johanns to be the Secretary of Agriculture.

GOVERNOR JOHANNS: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Governor Johanns is an experienced public service -- servant from America's agricultural heartland. As a son of Iowa dairy farmers, he grew up close to the land. He will bring to this position a lifetime of involvement in agriculture, and a long record of a faithful friend to America's farmers and ranchers. He will lead an important agency with the executive skill he has learned as mayor and as a two-term governor of Nebraska.

I've known Mike for a number of years, going back to my own service as a governor. I know firsthand his deep commitment to a strong farm economy. He's been a leader on drought relief in Nebraska and throughout the Midwest. He's a strong proponent of alternative energy sources, such as ethanol and biodiesel. He's traveled the world to promote American farm exports...

(Associated Press, May 17, 2002)

LINCOLN -- Gov. Mike Johanns is leading a delegation of state agriculture directors to attend three days of meetings in Brussels, with the goal of opening markets for genetically engineered crops.

Johanns left Friday for the trip and will return May 23. The delegation he is leading, as chairman of the 12-state Midwestern Governors' Conference, includes representatives from Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio.

Johanns leads talk about biotechnology with European leaders
(May 22, 2002 Associated Press)

European leaders have been getting an earful this week from a delegation of farm state officials trying open markets for genetically engineered crops.

Gov. Mike Johanns is leading a delegation of state agriculture directors attending meetings in Brussels, Belgium, with European Union parliament leaders, ag producer groups, and consumer and environmental groups.

"We've been talking as publicly as we can about the safety of these products," Johanns said.

Johanns said he expected the EU to require biotech products to be labeled so consumers can tell what they are getting.

"If companies are required to detail the use of biotechnology ... you can begin to understand just how onerous this process can be," Johanns said. "What we do fear is labeling that is so onerous, so extensive, that it literally closes the market to our products."

(Thursday, June 12, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Lincoln Journal Star editorial, 06/11/03: Gov. Mike Johanns and other Nebraskans are on a trade mission to Japan to find more customers for the state's grains and other products.

But in other parts of the world, the dispute over genetically modified crops continues to slow trade opportunities for Nebraska and the rest of the nation's farmers and ranchers.

According to a recent news report, the Governors Biotechnology Partnership was founded a year ago by 13 founding members to explore ways to advance biotechnology.

Governor Mike Johanns said, "The Partnership provides a platform for Governors to promote informed discussion about safe and efficient methods of food production for the whole world utilizing biotechnology. The promise of biotechnology includes new crops that mature faster, produce more, resist drought and insects, and provide better nutrition. The potential will exist to feed hundreds of millions of malnourished and starving people in underdeveloped countries around the world, especially in Asia and Africa, in a way never before possible."

At the recent annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Governor Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa), who chairs the organization, and Governor
Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), vice chair, announced that 27 Governors are now members of the Biotechnology Partnership.

Bush nominates Johanns as agriculture secretary


If his nomination is confirmed, Johanns will head the $78-billion-a-year U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has 113,000 employees. The USDA oversees and regulates farm, forest and food programs.

He has also been a major promoter of the sale of American agriculture products overseas. He has taken trade delegations to Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil and Chile...

Challenges likely to come up soon for the new secretary include further opening overseas markets to U.S. agricultural products, including the explosive issue of selling bioengineered crops to Europe, and shepherding the next version of the farm appropriations bill.

Other key issues include regulation of genetically engineered agricultural products and the possibility that another case of mad cow disease will be found as the USDA's testing program continues.

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