Tom Philpott at The Grist had an interesting post the other day wondering whether Obama’s food/ag policy is withering. Among the possibilities for Agriculture Secretary he discusses:
John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association. Boyd helped lead the fight to hold USDA accountable for its long history of stiffing black farmers; his nomination is being championed by the Congressional Black Caucus. Virginia-based Boyd himself runs a relatively small-scale farm; seems like his position as a USDA outsider might lead him to champion the interests of small farmers in an agency that’s long been beholden to large industrial operations.
Boyd is said to be an unlikely long-shot. Ezra Klein
One thing you’re seeing here is the immaturity of the food movement. Until the last year or two, most folks who specialized in agriculture did it from the perspective of industry, or culinary concerns, or GMO worries. Only as global warming has become more salient has food policy emerged as a broader issue, the sort that could grab the interest of young politicians and agency administrators. But it’s all new enough that we don’t really know who those folks are, and so it’s hard for people to find good candidates to rally around. The fact that there was a petition going around to name Michael Pollan Ag Secretary [link] sort of proves the point: Right now, the movement has ideas and advocates, but few converts who are credible on the cabinet level.
For his part Pollan voiced optimism on The Brian Lehrer Show that Obama would move agriculture in a progressive direction. And laughed off speculation that he could be appointed USDA chief.