WASHINGTON — Mike Johanns, who as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped reopen international markets for U.S. beef, resigned from his post last week to seek a Senate seat in his home state of Nebraska.
Charles F. Conner, who served under Johanns as deputy secretary of agriculture, was named acting secretary by President Bush.
Conner, who grew up on a family farm in Indiana, has served the USDA since May 2, 2005. He previously served on the National Economic Council as a special assistant for agricultural trade and food assistance. He is a former president of the Corn Refiners Association and held several positions with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
At USDA, Conner focused on the 2007 Farm Bill, a version of which received approval from the U.S. House July 27 and is currently before the U.S. Senate.
Johanns was named No. 49 in SN's 2007 Power 50 ranking of influential individuals in the food industry.
He was a popular two-term governor of Nebraska who resigned from that post to replace outgoing Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in January 2005.