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The Yonder’s Richard Oswald would love to see Chuck Hassebrook at deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Down in the Mississippi Delta, there is a different opinion. Forest Laws of the Delta Farm Press writes that “with some reluctance…I don’t think Chuck Hassebrook would be a good choice for deputy secretary.”

Laws says he’s been a long-time reader of Hassebrook’s writings, “and I know he is deeply concerned about the future of rural America and of family farmers.” But Hassebrook’s vision of the family farmer is someone working 400 acres with one or two hired hands and he’s been “lobbying Congress to limit farm payments to those size operations for years.” Law writes that what Hassebrook “refuses to recognize — we’ve had this debate before — is the larger farming operations he denigrates are the norm in the Sunbelt and probably more the rule in states like Nebraska and in Iowa. (Iowa probably has more 2,000-acre farming operations than the 300- to 400-acre ones by far.)” Farms got that big, Law writes, “so they could stay in business.”

The deputy secretary plays a “much bigger role” in USDA today than in years past, Law writes. And deputy secretaries often end up as acting secretaries. Law says there have been “hatchet” men who have ended up as acting secretaries before and indicates that Hassebrook could be another.

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