Progressives fight against Heitkamp as possible USDA boss

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Progressives in agriculture appear to be making a push to keep former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp out of the USDA Secretary’s office in a Biden administration. News Break Dot Com says the conflict is ramping up as Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio has begun to campaign for the job.

USDA is a $150 billion department that oversees ag policy, supports the farm economy, and feeds millions of low-income households. Heitkamp has been seen as a top contender for the spot because of her moderate politics and friendly relationship with the agricultural sector.

However, a coalition is working behind the scenes to eliminate her candidacy before it gets going. They argue that she’s too conservative and far too cozy with the fossil fuel industry and corporate agribusiness. “There will be a big fight on Heitkamp if Biden puts her name forward,” says Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of the food and agriculture program at Friends of the Earth.

Most of the nonprofits against Heitkamp are far out on the left flank of even the most-progressive food and ag circles. However, divisions about Heitkamp appear to run deeply. The National Farmers Union, not a member of this coalition, is facing its own questions about whether to get behind the former North Dakota Senator.