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Ann Veneman resigns as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Farm subsidy issues possible reason

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WASHINGTON, DC – The daughter of a Dutch American couple who over the past four years served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Administration of President George W. Bush, is the eight U.S. cabinet minister to resign following the November presidential elections. The resignation of Mrs. Ann M. Veneman came as a surprise although it is customary to offer to step aside when a president starts a new term in office.

According to many industry observers Veneman previously had signalled that she was open to stay on during President Bush’s second term.

Veneman’s Dutch ancestors farmed in South Dakota in the 1890s. She was raised on her family’s peach farm in Modesto, California. Her father John Veneman was a one-time California assemblyman who had worked in the Nixon administration as under-secretary at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Before being appointed Secretary of Agriculture, Veneman had held a similar position on the state level in California. Previously, she already had served in a number of capacities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from 1991 to 1993 as Deputy Secretary.

Veneman had campaigned for President Bush in key farm states in the months before the November 2004 elections. During her tenure, she faced anthrax attacks, the outbreak of mad cow disease, agricultural trade disputes with Europe and Asia, and enacted a new farm bill.

Analysts point to her proposals to reform the nation’s costly farm subsidy system, as one of the possible reasons for Veneman’s resignation. However, her work was applauded by various farm organizations. As well, several consumer and environmental organizations that seldom see eye to eye with Republican agriculture secretaries praised her policies.

President Bush has nominated Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns to replace Veneman.