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Speak up about the future Secretary of Agriculture ASAP!

‘Tis the season for Presidential cabinet appointments, and while you probably won’t find a surprise appointment in your own stocking, you are encouraged to let the USDA know—in these final weeks—who you favor, and why. According to Steph Larsen at the Center for Rural Affairs (via Ethicurean.com, a blog that is doing fantastic coverage of this issue and others), there is a short list of candidates for Secretary of Agriculture, and we should exercise our democratic right by learning who’s who, focusing on realistic candidates (Michael Pollan, sigh, is not interested and not a real candidate). Please note, however, that this short list is a slippery lil’ fella, and just as soon as you think you’ve gotten your head around it, reports come that it has changed.

That’s where this new petition now circulating may come in handy—as reported by Kim Severson on the NYT Diner Journal, and signed by many of our own including our President Josh Viertel—suggesting a few somewhat realistic, but NOT-on-the-short-list candidates, including Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University. While this list might not totally reflect the down-and-dirty realities of Washington, it makes a strong and well-supported push for the new administration to go in a more progressive direction with this position. Plus, the short list keeps changing, so who knows!

To sign onto this petition, click here.

And, as Larsen explains: “Another way to influence this process is by weighing in with your senators regarding other appointed positions at USDA, such as Under Secretaries, Deputy Under Secretaries, and Agency Administrators. These positions often control the daily workings of programs we care about, and having people friendly to the sustainable food, rural and agriculture community in these positions goes a long way to help make these programs successful.” For more information on those positions and how to get informed and get involved, click here.

[Update: as of Thursday December 11th, the Food Democracy Now petition has nearly 19,000 signatures; check out the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof calling for a Secretary of Food instead of the antiquated Secretary of Agriculture for a country that is only 2% farmers; read the news about Obama’s team already writing briefing notes for this Secretary of Ag, even before he/she has been chosen.]