Ag official heeds Capitol Hill call
Miller leaves USDA post to work on new farm bill
BY JERRY HAGSTROM
For the Capital Press
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Jim Miller, a former Garfield, Wash., farmer, will leave his post to take a job on Capitol Hill.
Miller will join the staff of Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a senior member of the Agriculture Committee. Miller will serve as a senior aide leading negotiations on the 2012 Farm Bill, according to an announcement from Conrad's office.
During the 2008 Farm Bill debate, Miller was the principal aide to Conrad, who was a key player in that debate.
Conrad announced Jan. 19 he will not run for re-election in 2012, but that he would make the 2012 Farm Bill one of his highest priorities during his last two years in office.
"Jim Miller is one of the best," Conrad said in a statement. "I am fortunate to have him come back to my staff and put that experience and knowledge to work helping craft a new farm bill."
Miller has been highly regarded in his role at USDA, where he has implemented large sections of the 2008 Farm Bill and traveled around the world, including many trips to China, in an effort to fight barriers to U.S. exports and to promote the sale of U.S. agricultural products.
But while USDA plays an important role in agriculture and Miller's Senate-confirmed position is highly prestigious, the real power in agricultural policymaking in Washington is in writing the farm bill.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praised Miller in a statement, calling him "a valued leader and trusted adviser."
Vilsack added, "Jim will continue doing important work on behalf of farmers and ranchers and I thank him for his tireless service to USDA and the farmers and ranchers that we serve."