VENEMAN PRAISED FOR HANDLING CRISES AT USDA

WASHINGTON -- Ann M. Veneman, the first woman to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, resigned last week after a four-year tenure that included handling the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the development of new safeguards against bioterrorism.ocessed foods and working with trade partners to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply.Recently, Japan and the United States

WASHINGTON -- Ann M. Veneman, the first woman to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, resigned last week after a four-year tenure that included handling the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the development of new safeguards against bioterrorism.

ocessed foods and working with trade partners to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply.

Recently, Japan and the United States reached an agreement to reopen Japan's markets to U.S. beef products beginning next spring on a limited basis.

Many also credited Veneman for helping to maintain the public's confidence in the beef supply in the wake of the discovery of the first U.S. case of BSE.

According to reports, her potential successors include Allen Johnson, a farm negotiator with the U.S. Trade Representative's office; Chuck Conner, a White House agriculture adviser; and Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-Texas, a farm policy expert.

Veneman's departure came amid a wave of cabinet resignations as newly re-elected President Bush prepares for a second term.