(Nov. 1) Again picking a former governor as Agriculture Secretary, President Bush on Oct. 31 nominated Ed Schafer to be the 29th U.S. Agriculture Secretary.

Bush said he would like Schafer to influence the farm bill and world trade talks in the coming months.

Like his predecessor and President Bush, Schafer has served as governor. Schafer served from 1992 to 2000 as governor of North Dakota.

Johanns, then governor of Nebraska in the middle of a second four-year term, was tabbed by Bush in December 2004 to replace Ann Veneman. Veneman had served since 2000 as Agriculture Secretary under Bush.

Johanns resigned as Agriculture Secretary last month to begin campaigning for the Nebraska Senate seat being vacated by Republican Chuck Hagel at the end of 2008.

“Ed Schafer is the right choice to fill this post,” President Bush said in a ceremony at the White House. Bush praised Schafer’s leadership on agricultural issues during his eight years as the governor of North Dakota, including expansion of the state’s agricultural trade with China and development of the state’s biofuel industry.

Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said that Schafer is an unknown.

“We didn’t know a lot about Secretary Johanns as well, and he ended up being a good ally,” Guenther said. Guenther said he was looking forward to visiting with Schafer about specialty crop priorities and advancing the farm bill.

What’s more, Schafer could be in place as the agency begins to implement a new rule that will add fruit and vegetables vouchers to the Women, Infants and Children supplement nutrition program, he noted.