Nebraska Ag Director Greg Ibach testified Thursday before the Senate Ag Committee, as the committee considers his nomination as an Under Secretary of Agriculture.
The committee currently has no members from Nebraska — a first in nearly five decades. However, both Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse showed up to introduce Ibach to the committee.
“I am honored to introduce my fellow Nebraskan and my good friend Greg Ibach, the nominee to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs,” Fischer told the committee as Ibach sat beside her.
President Donald Trump nominated Ibach last month for under secretary at the recommendation of current Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Sasse, who is a former member of the committee, gave his support for Ibach’s confirmation.
“Nobody outworks Nebraska and nobody knows this better than Greg Ibach,” Sasse said. “Greg has built his entire career and his whole life on honesty and on hustle. He’s the man for the job and Nebraskans couldn’t be prouder of the president’s selection.”
“As is the case with many farm operations in this country, our farm has weathered many difficult times because of persistence, communication and teamwork,” Ibach told the Senate Ag Committee in his opening statement. “I look forward to bringing those same principles to USDA if I am confirmed.”
Ibach attended UNL and studied animal science and agricultural economics. Ibach graduated in 1984, during the heart of the historic farm crisis, and worked for six years in the farm credit system in Iowa and Nebraska, before returning to the family farm to pursue his love for production agriculture while raising his three children with his wife, Theressa.
He said he became involved with his county and state farm bureaus; county, state and national cattlemen’s associations; and saw service in the state’s Ag Department, first as its assistant director under Gov. Mike Johanns in 1990. He later spent 12 years as department director under Govs. Dave Heineman and Pete Rickets.
“I’ve approached my tenure at the department with service to Nebraska’s nearly 50,000 family farm and ranch families in mind,” Ibach said. “I believe my status as an active producer has been essential to my role in the department.”
Ibach added that he recognizes and appreciates the structure of government and its role in protecting and serving all citizens, be they producers or consumers, and said that competitiveness in the market would benefit both.
Representing and promoting farmers and ranchers, and overseeing the agencies that regulate them requires balance, which Ibach said he feels can be used to support the agency’s goals of job creation, prioritizing customer service, and ensuring customer access to a safe and adequate food supply.
“Each day my decisions will be tempered by two principles: how will regulatory programs and promotional activities improve the opportunities, not only for my neighbors in Sumner, but also Americans across the country?” Ibach said. “I recognize the weighty responsibility to maintain consumer confidence in the products produced and the production methods implemented.”
In response to a question from Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Ibach said his priorities in leading the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would be to mitigate foreign animal disease threats and safeguard U.S. producers by implementing biosecurity across the board.
While farmers and ranchers often feel stifled by regulations, Roberts said a proposed “categorical exclusions” rule from review processes would be important for expediting the development of veterinary vaccinations is currently under review by APHIS would benefit producers.
Ibach said he was not familiar with the rule, but offered to acquaint himself with it, and if necessary, shepherd it through the review process.
The hearing lasted little more than an hour. Given the warm comments offered by many of the committee members, the expectation is that Ibach’s nomination will receive a positive confirmation recommendation out of committee for consideration by the full Senate body in the near future.
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