Supporters and critics of Thomas Dorr are going before the U-S Senate Ag Committee at this hour, discussing the Iowa farmer’s nomination to a U-S-D-A post. Some say he’s made comments with a racial slant but Dorr says the comments were out of context. Representative Eva Clayton, a democrat from North Carolina, opposed Dorr’s comments and his nomination. She says Dorr’s comments need to be looked at in the context of the long history of discrimination at the Department of Agriculture.Dorr raised controversy after making comments about the success of some Iowa counties due to their lack of ethnic diversity, comments he says were misinterpreted. George Naylor, of Des Moines, is a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. He also urged the panel to -not- confirm Dorr. He says widespread opposition has grown as “American has become aware of Thomas Dorr’s disastourus vision of the future of rural America and his reprehensible views of equating economic success with the lack or religious or ethnic diversity.” Another opponent who testified before the Senate panel this morning is Dennis Keeney, former director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames. He says his general impression is that he can’t see Dorr being a leader in rural issues.Ron Langston is a northwest Iowa native who is the director of the U-S Minority Business Development Agency. Langston, who is black, says he fully supports Dorr’s nomination, saying they both have much in common having grown up among the diversity of the American plains.Langston says he doesn’t think for one second that Dorr is a racist or would say or do anything to undermine any minority community, especially African Americans. Langston says he needs Dorr to help address rural minority issues.Another Dorr supporter, Varel Bailey farms in the Anita, Iowa area. Varel is former chairman of the National Corn Growers Association and has collaborated with Dorr on a variety of agricultural endeavors, including the marketing of gasohol, which later became known as ethanol. Bailey calls Dorr a visionary with many attributes that suit him for the post he has been nominated to. Bailey says Dorr is smart in education and in street smarts.
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