September 24, 2017

USDA Nominees Field Questions from Senate Ag Committee Members

A Minnesota native who spent the past two decades with the American Soybean Association is poised to move into  the No. 2 job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stephen Censky, who grew up in Jackson, Minnesota, is President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary of agriculture.

Censky faced a confirmation hearing before the Senate Ag Committee Tuesday morning.

Censky grew up on a farm about halfway between Albert Lea and the South Dakota border, and just south of I-90.

He previously worked for USDA during the Reagan years and the first Bush administration.

Censky faced questions about the President Trump’s recent budget proposal, and what lawmakers criticized as drastic cuts to rural economic development funding.

Confirmation 1

Censky appeared before the committee with Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney, President Trump’s nominee to oversee trade and foreign agriculture issues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

McKinney faced questions over the White House stance on trade policy, and he stressed the importance of fair trade under World Trade Organization rules.

Confirmation 2

He also faced questions over the White House stance on expanded trade with Cuba, something most of U.S. agriculture supports. President Trump laid out his new policy on Cuba in June that would cancel President Obama’s “one-sided deal” with the country.

Confirmation 3

McKinney has headed the Indiana Department of Agriculture since being appointed to the post in 2014 by then-Gov. Mike Pence, who is now Trump’s vice president.




Taiwan Makes Commitment to Buy U.S. Wheat at State Capitol Ceremony in Bismarck

North Dakota Wheat Commission Chairman David Clough and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford on Friday joined members of a Taiwanese agricultural trade delegation in signing a joint statement demonstrating Taiwan’s intent to purchase 66 million bushels of U.S. wheat valued at about $576 million.  The signing ceremony was held in Memorial Hall at the State Capitol.

Taiwan intends to purchase the wheat in 2018 and 2019. Members of the trade delegation included representatives of the Taiwan Flour Mills Association, which provides collective buying and shipping services for all 20 flour mills in Taiwan.  Also participating in the trade mission were officials from leading Taiwan flour mills and Bo-Yuan Chen, director of the U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) Taipei office.

Taiwan is on average the sixth largest market for U.S. wheat, purchasing 38 million bushels each year in recent years.  Hard red spring wheat (HRS), of which North Dakota is the largest producer, makes up more than half of the exports and Taiwan is typically the third largest export market for this class of wheat.  The country also makes significant purchases of hard red winter and white wheat.

“The United States has a commanding market share in Taiwan, accounting for nearly 80 percent of all wheat imported into the country,” Clough said, “significant HRS imports reflect a need for strong gluten flour for breads, rolls and frozen dough products as well as for blending with other classes of wheat.  Taiwan is committed to purchasing high quality wheat, and as producers, we are committed to growing wheat that meets their needs.”  This commitment has been demonstrated through more than 50 years of wheat trade between the two countries.  USW opened their office in Taipei in 1966 and works with end users and importers to help them strengthen relationships with the U.S. wheat industry and provides customer and technical service to millers and bakers.

The delegation was in Washington, D.C. prior to coming to North Dakota and also signed a letter of intent with U.S. Wheat Associates.  They will travel to Montana and Idaho following their North Dakota visit. Following meetings at the Capitol today, the group met with key legislative leaders in North Dakota, farm group leaders and they will visit South Central Grain in Sterling to get a first-hand look at the 2017 crop.


Beef Board CEO Search is Underway

The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) announces a national search to fill the position of Chief Executive Officer after accepting the resignation of current CEO Polly Ruhland in late August.

CBB’s primary function is to oversee and administrate the national beef checkoff through the management of programs that are proposed and carried out by various contractors. As part of the administration of the program, CBB oversees the collection of a mandatory assessment fee on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle and imported beef and beef products through a coordinated effort with qualified state beef councils.

CBB consists of 100 board members representing domestic beef, dairy and veal producers and importers of beef and beef products. A staff of nine employees conducts day-to-day operations.

Under the direction of the Board, the CEO manages all administrative and organizational affairs of CBB. The successful candidate will lead CBB operations, manage organizational strategy, financial and legal matters, and communications, as well as CBB’s relationships with the United States Department of Agriculture and beef community stakeholders.

The position is based in Centennial, Colorado, and the new CEO must reside in the Denver area.

Interested parties should click here to find a job description and additional information, or contact with inquiries. All discussions will be held strictly confidential.

Ruhland resigned in late August to accept the position of CEO at the United Soybean Board. The CBB Executive Committee subsequently tapped Chief Financial Officer Katherine Ayers as interim CEO, effective beginning Nov. 1, 2017.

Learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board by visiting