WASHINGTON - Two men with Minnesota backgrounds are set to move into their U.S. Department of Agriculture offices.
The Senate late Tuesday, Oct. 3, approved the nominations of Steve Censky to be the No. 2 person in the department and Ted McKinney to become the first-ever undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs.
The nominations by President Donald Trump were not controversial, but it took weeks for senators to give their blessing to the pair.
Censky will be deputy secretary, with the responsibility of running the USDA day to day, as well as helping Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue create overall farm policy.
Censky grew up near Pipestone, in southwestern Minnesota. His family's farm included livestock and crops.
He has been leader of the American Soybean Association and worked in the USDA for the past two Republican presidents.
McKinney lived near southern Minnesota's Mankato for a time, and heads to Washington after leading Indiana's state agriculture agency.
Trump's appointment of two key USDA positions from the Midwest eased the minds of some Midwesterners who wondered if Perdue, a former Georgia governor, would adequately understand Midwestern agriculture.
Perdue thanked senators for confirming the two nominees.
"Steve Censky will help us be responsive to producers reeling from the effects of multiple hurricanes and also offer prudent counsel as Congress continues work on the 2018 farm bill." Perdue said. "Ted McKinney will take charge of the newly created mission area focused on trade, and wake up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets."
Reports out of Washington indicate that Perdue has been frustrated with the slow Senate confirmation process. Senators still must confirm some key USDA appointees, including those who have been leading Iowa and Nebraska state ag agencies.