A Falls City native, who is a candidate to be President Trump’s Deputy Secretary of Agricultural, has been endorsed by a number of cattle groups, including a Nebraska organization that want him for his support of the re-instatement of a meat labeling law.
Charles Herbster, a Nebraska rancher, who runs Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City and Conklin Company in Kansas City, met with Trump in early March at Trump’s private Mar-A-Lago Club, according to the national online publication POLITICO.
Herbster has confirmed that he is a candidate for the number two spot in the Agricultural Department, behind fmr. governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue, who will likely face a confirmation hearing to lead the USDA on Thursday.
Herbster recently received an endorsement from 14 various cattle groups throughout the US, including the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.
President of the Independent Cattlemen Dave Wright, wants Herbster because he thinks the businessman could steer the Ag Department into bringing back a law that requires country of origin labeling on various meat products, including beef.
“If the customer has a choice, they’re going to choose probably a US product, because they know where it comes from,” says Wright.
The law was repealed in December of 2015, as Canada and Mexico threatened the US with high tariffs.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry voted against the repeal, while Rep. Adrian Smith and fmr. congressman Brad Ashford voted to strike down the country of origin law.
“As soon as they did that, the cattle markets fell in half,” says Wright, who ranches in Neligh. “We sold calves for $1,800 a year, we’re selling them for $800 now.”
Trump’s agricultural committee, which was led by Herbster, said in December that they would like to re-instate the law. Perdue, who specializes in agribusiness, has remained mum on the issue.
Perdue has received the support of many agricultural groups, including the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
Al Juhnke of the NPPA, says that while he likes that Perdue has executive experience, he would like to see Nebraskans such as Herbster, or people from surrounding states, serving under Perdue, in order to regionally balance out the USDA.
“We take that as a sign that they certainly are listening to us, and we want to make sure all agricultural voices from around the country are represented, says Juhnke.
According to news reports, Herbster is in contention for the #2 job at the USDA with several others including, Indiana farmer and businessman Kip Tom, Ted McKinney and A.G. Kawamura, who led the agricultural departments in Indiana and California, respectively.
Wright thinks Herbster is the obvious choice out of that group.
“If cattle is also his interest and he’s expressed interest in country of origins labeling, that’s the best thing I got going in a long, long, long, long time,” says Wright.
Adrian Smith’s Communication Director Emily Miller says Smith still stands by his vote to repeal the country of orgin labeling law.
“Congressman Smith remains concerned about retaliatory tariffs should COOL be revived, but he will continue to discuss the issue with Nebraska producers,” says Miller.
Representatives from Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and District 2 Rep. Don Bacon, have been contacted but have yet to formally respond about their thoughts on COOL.