Nominated to be deputy secretary by Sen. Thad Cochran, Hawks was instead named by President Bush to the position that oversees all of USDA’s animal and crop marketing support and regulatory activities.
The deputy secretary’s post went to Jim Moseley, the owner of a Clarks Hill, Ind., farm, Moseley was director of the U.S. Forest Service and agricultural advisor to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the first Bush administration. He also worked as director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture.
Midwest senators such as Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., mounted a full court press on the administration to name a midwesterner as deputy secretary after Bush nominated Ann Veneman of California as agriculture secretary. As deputy secretary, Moseley will run the day-to-day operations of the Agriculture Department.
Southern senators such as Cochran and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott also lobbied for Hawks to receive the position. The National Cotton Council and the Stoneville , Miss.-based Delta Council supported Hawks’ nomination.
Hawks, 56, farms 7,700 acres of cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat in Desoto County in north Mississippi. He served as a state senator in the Mississippi Legislature and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1999.
His wife, Diane, a partner in their farming operation, has been named chairman of the state advisory committee for the Farm Service Agency.
A widely respected agribusinessman and civic leader, Hawks helped organize the Mississippi Feed Grains Association and has long been active in the Mississippi Soybean Association and American Soybean Association.
The Senate must confirm both the appointments of Hawks and Moseley. When that occurs, Hawks will be responsible for the operation of the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
President Bush has also nominated J.B. Penn, senior vice president with the Sparks Companies to be undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services.
A native of Arkansas and graduate of Arkansas State University, Penn held a variety of positions with USDA in the 1970s and 1980s before leaving to help found Economic Perspectives, an independent consulting company.
The Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, formerly International Affairs and Commodity Programs, oversees the Farm Service Agency and Foreign Agriculture Service.