Donald Trump may be getting closer to naming an agriculture secretary as he continued to meet with candidates who would either satisfy the need for diversity in his Cabinet or placate conservative farmers, according to an article on USAgNet.com.
Politico.com reports that former Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano and former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado were traveling to Florida to discuss the position with Trump in person on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is scheduled to travel to Mar-a-Lago on Friday to meet with incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The agriculture secretary job is one of the last Cabinet-level positions to be filled, and the delay demonstrates the tough balancing act of finding a candidate who can both please rural supporters — who catapulted Trump to the presidency — and represent the nation’s increasingly diverse farmers and farm workers.
Despite meeting early on with former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a favorite of the president-elect’s supporters in the agriculture industry, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have recently been meeting with a steady stream of candidates who represent their need for women and Latinos in the Cabinet. Just four of the 17 people Trump has nominated so far are women, and none are Latina.
Murano, an immigrant from Cuba who served as undersecretary of agriculture for food safety during President George W. Bush’s first term, is meeting with Trump at his Florida estate on Wednesday. She arrived at the Mar-a-Lago clubhouse just before noon, according to pool reports. Maldonado is an alumnus of the Arnold Schwarzenegger administration and a former state legislator who also owns a vineyard.
The meetings come after Pence met with former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs last week, a move that House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) supported, calling Combs a “proven commodity” in his home state. At the same time, Combs faces heavy backlash from some of Trump’s closest rural supporters, who say she’s too liberal, having pushed Michelle Obama-like policies to remove fried foods, soda and sweets from public schools that were later reversed by Miller.