Hearing of Committee on Agriculture, Nutritiona and Forestry on Nomination of Hon. Michael Johanns, to be Secretary of the U.S.Department of Agriculture
STATEMENT OF HON. CHUCK HAGEL, A U.S. SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA
Senator Hagel. Mr. Chairman, thank you. First, congratulations on your new responsibilities and your new
assignment. You have some very weak members on your side, I note, but assuming that you are able to overcome that deficit,
I know that you will do quite well, and I look forward to exchanging agriculture tips during our Intelligence Committee
meeting. Congratulations, and we are very pleased that you have agreed to accept this big responsibility.
Senator Baucus. I appreciate your inference that only one side is weak.
[Laughter.] Senator Hagel. Senator Baucus, with all due respect, I am not finished.
Senator Baucus. I will have subsequent remarks as well. [Laughter.]
Senator Hagel. I will be gone.
To Chairman Cochran, thank you for your leadership over these years. You have, as Chairman Chambliss has noted, been a
very important part of American agriculture, and your leadership, as the Chairman noted, has not only been highly
regarded and respected, but appreciated. All of us from farm States, who are much dependent on agriculture, very much
appreciate what you have done, as well as the former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, who sits to your left, now-
Senator Roberts, for his years of service.
Mr. Chairman, I have a prepared statement, which I would ask that it be inserted into the record.
The Chairman. Without objection.
Senator Hagel. Thank you.
I am here this morning with my friend and colleague, Senator Nelson, who you have already introduced, to perform not
only an important task, but a very personal task for me, and that is to help acquaint this committee with our Governor and a
very dear friend of mine, Mike Johanns. The President has chosen wisely, in my opinion, in selecting Governor Johanns for
this job. Members of this committee recognize more, and better, and deeper than most what is ahead for American agriculture
these next 4 years. The Farm bill is going to have to be rewritten, trade issues, exports, conservation programs, we probably are looking at more drought issues, natural disaster issues, so much that is included in the portfolio of the Secretary of Agriculture.
As the President has chosen Mike Johanns, Mike Johanns has agreed to step into this job at an important time that will
require, I believe, more than just qualifications. It will require a personal commitment to what these tasks and challenges are. I do not know of an individual who today, in America, and that is a rather inclusive, and broad and bold statement, is better qualified to do this job than Mike Johanns not just because of his background, his education, what he has done in his life, but his personal commitment. This is a man who was born on a farm. Agriculture has been part of the very fiber of his existence throughout his life.
As Governor of Nebraska, he led and headed many of the Governors' Association, Midwest Governors' Association,
Republican Governors' Association, export efforts, trade efforts, always moving forward, always branching American,
Nebraska agriculture out into new value-added dynamics. It is the opinion of this Senator that that is the future of American
agriculture not more subsidies. In fact, if we are to continue to build on the great strength and productivity of American
agriculture, then it is going to require, I believe, some rather creative leadership and thinking and bold leadership as
well. No one is better equipped than Mike Johanns to be able to accomplish that.
I would conclude, Mr. Chairman, with this point. Most, I suspect, know that Mike Johanns, if approved by this committee
and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, would be the fourth Nebraskan to hold this assignment as Secretary of Agriculture. We have been, over the years, very proud of Clayton Yeutter, the most recent Nebraskan to hold this job, Clifford Hardin, and a man that is now part of our history and our legacy and also presides in the Hall of Statues, J. Sterling Morton, who was
the first Secretary of Agriculture from Nebraska. I do not know if we will build a statue to Johanns, depending on how well he
does, but he has a great legacy to follow in the three Nebraskans, who have previously held this job.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I would conclude by saying that we are very proud of this man. Certainly, Tom Harkin can claim a
part of him. One might say that Johanns was shaped and molded maybe even more in Iowa than he was Nebraska, but, nonetheless, this is a man of the heartland. This is a man who is ready to do this job, and we are proud of him. We will enthusiastically support him and work closely with him.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.