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Progressives Have Knives Out for Heitkamp as USDA Race Intensifies

Heitkamp has long been seen as the leading contender for the position, given her moderate politics and friendly relationship with the agriculture sector.

Progressives within agriculture are mounting an aggressive push to keep former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from being selected to serve as Agriculture Secretary in a Biden administration.

The tension is emerging right as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) has begun publicly gunning for the top job at USDA, a sprawling $150 billion department that feeds millions of low-income households, oversees agriculture policy and supports the farm economy.

Heitkamp has long been seen as the leading contender for the position, given her moderate politics and friendly relationship with the agriculture sector. But a growing coalition is now furiously organizing behind the scenes to shoot down her candidacy before it goes anywhere, arguing that she’s too conservative and far too cozy with the fossil fuel industry and corporate agribusiness.

“There will be a big fight on Heitkamp if Biden puts her name forward,” said Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of the food and agriculture program at Friends of the Earth, a progressive environmental nonprofit that’s been outspoken against Heitkamp.

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