Salazar wrong for Ag Dept.

We must admit we’re torn by the news that President-elect Barack Obama is reportedly considering 3rd District Congressman John Salazar for secretary of agriculture.

If Salazar, the San Luis Valley farmer, were sent to Washington, it would open up the 3rd District for a special election and the possibility that someone who is far more dynamic and productive could be elected to replace Salazar in Congress.

But the same reasons we could not endorse Salazar in his re-election bid for Congress this year make him a poor choice for Obama’s Cabinet.

He has been a staunch supporter of the Farm Bill, with all of its overly generous subsidies to certain types of farmers. Obama needs an agriculture secretary who will seek real reform in the bloated farm bill.

Salazar has also been an unabashed supporter of earmarks — pork-barrel funding which members of Congress tack onto budget bills to get money for projects in their own district.

The Agriculture Department needs someone willing to speak out against that kind of funding.

Finally, Salazar was largely absent from this part of the 3rd District until the final weeks of the campaign, and he was not a leader in some of the critical natural resources debates on the Western Slope. As Agriculture Secretary he would oversee the national forest service and its multitude of contentious natural resource issues throughout the West.

John Salazar unquestionably knows farming, especially in the San Luis Valley. But we believe he would be the wrong choice for secretary of agriculture.


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