WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2017 - The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Steve Censky to become deputy agriculture secretary and Ted McKinney to be the Agriculture Department’s first undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. 

The nominations were approved on voice vote Tuesday evening, one day after the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the nominees. They will be the first Senate-confirmed executives at USDA since Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took office in April. 

Censky has been the longtime CEO of the American Soybean Association. 

McKinney, who was appointed Indiana agriculture secretary by then-Gov. Mike Pence, spent 19 years with Dow AgroSciences and 14 years with Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement that the two men will "provide the steady leadership we need at USDA."

"Steve Censky will help us be responsive to producers reeling from the effects of multiple hurricanes and also offer prudent counsel as Congress continues work on the 2018 Farm Bill," Perdue said. "Ted McKinney will take charge of the newly-created mission area focused on trade, and wake up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets."

The deputy secretary traditionally manages the department’s day-to-day operations. Perdue in May announced the creation of the trade undersecretary position, which was a requirement of the 2014 farm bill. McKinney will oversee the Foreign Agricultural Service. 

David Schemm, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said Censky and McKinney have strong backgrounds in agriculture that “make them ideal candidates for their positions."  

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, called Censky “a proven, successful executive, known for providing a clear vision for the agricultural industry and being a tireless advocate for America’s farmers.”

The Agriculture Committee is holding a hearing Thursday for two additional nominees, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Trump’s pick to be undersecretary for farm and conservation programs; and Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach for undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs.


(Story updated at 10:00 p.m. to include reaction from Secretary Perdue)

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