Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns submitted his letter of resignation to President Bush this morning.
In it, Johanns wrote," After careful thought and difficult deliberation, I am writing to inform you that I have decided to pursue a new opportunity to serve this great Nation. Please accept my resignation effective today, September 19, 2007 and my gratitude for the distinct privilege to serve in your Cabinet."
Although he did not specify the new opportunity, there has been speculation that Johanns would seek the Nebraska Senate seat since Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., announced a few weeks ago that he would not seek re-election. The official announcement of his candidacy is expected next week in Nebraska, possibly as early as Monday.
Chuck Conner, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture has been temporarily named acting secretary by President Bush. Conner was previously Bush's agricultural advisor.
With the Farm Bill still not completed, Johanns wrote of his confidence in the people at USDA. "I can assure you that I leave the farm bill finalization in supremely capable hands. Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner has been intimately involved in the deliberations - from the development of our proposals to his attendance at virtually every hearing during the House mark-up. Few people are as knowledgeable and insightful about farm bill policy. He is supported by some of the most dedicated civil servants in the federal government."
Conner is generally credited as the chief designer of the Agriculture Department's farm bill proposal this year. However that might complicate conformation, because his proposal substantially cut subsidies, which many members of the Senate Agriculture Committee oppose.