Former North Dakota Governor Edward Schafer has been nominated by President Bush to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says he’s not very familiar with Schafer, but believes he’ll be a strong proponent of renewable energy.

Northey says Schafer, being from North Dakota, should know what it’s like to depend on agriculture for economic strength. Schafer would succeed Mike Johanns, who resigned last month to launch a bid for the Senate from Nebraska.

"I would like to certainly see a secretary be very aggressive," Northey says, "much like Johanns was in talking about the growth and dynamics that there is in agriculture right now." The nomination comes at a time when the Bush Administration is hoping to influence the outcome of a new five-year farm bill.

Northey is hoping Schafer will focus on the positive aspects of current farm programs."There have been times in the past when we spent a lot of time talking about the problems and that’s partly because there were certainly problems," Northey says, "but now we can see lots of opportunities and I certainly want a secretary to be able to communicate those to the broader public and the ag community."

The Bush Administration is staunchly opposing congressional efforts to keep current farm programs, including billions of dollars in annual crop subsidies to farmers, in place.