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New GIPSA Head Getting Handle

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Tommy

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New GIPSA Head Getting Handle

-Texan James Link Takes Reins of GIPSA after 29 Years at TCU

By Chris Clayton

DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- The new administrator for the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration said he doesn't have a real strong direction yet on where to lead his agency and is just getting a handle on the scope of the operation.

"As I learn what the operation is, I'll be able to determine what my role is," said James Link, a Texas cattleman who took over as head of GIPSA Oct. 17.

Link, 62, said he has a "large learning curve" to better understand his new position since leaving his job of 29 years as director of the range management program at Texas Christian University

He will earn about $150,000 a year and said he was initially contacted by USDA officials several months ago about his possible interest in the position. When interviewing for the job, Link said no one at USDA told him why they thought he would be a good fit as GIPSA administrator and he never inquired about why he was approached about the post.

"That wasn't even brought up," he said. "I assume they got the information off my resume."

Ed Loyd, a USDA spokesman, said Link is a self-effacing person whose work in agriculture provides the skill sets and management style needed to run an agency such as GIPSA.

"Quite frankly, we are very excited to have him because he does have an extensive background in the cattle industry so we are very honored he would take this position," he said.

The role of GIPSA within USDA is to inspect grain for quality and ensure all federally licensed grain elevators maintain the stocks of grain they report to warehouse and properly pay producers who deliver grain. The agency also enforces the Packers & Stockyards Act, ensuring fair trade practices, proper payment to livestock producers and monitoring restraints on fair competition within the livestock industry.

"I'm charged with administering both programs, the grain inspections and packers and stockyards administration," Link said.

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said Link brings a lifetime of knowledge and experience as a rancher, businessman and educator to the job.

"His background and service make Jim especially well suited to lead our livestock and grain regulatory service to ensure we continue to enhance the economic opportunities available to agriculture producers," Johanns said.

Link said he was asked to "administrate the organization," but he was not given guidance or direction for GIPSA when offered the position to lead the agency, which employs about 750 people.

"That has not happened," he said.

Loyd said it isn't necessary for other officials to give Link direction from above about how to approach his new job.

"We're entrusting to him; he's going through a process now where he's learning and analyzing a lot about the role of the agency and he's going to be empowered to making sure that they have the tools and resources to fulfill their mission," he said. "I mean I think that's pretty clear what his role is going to be."

Link is a committee member for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and a director for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser's Association. Jim McAdams, president of the NCBA, called Link an outstanding choice for the position.

"He has expertise in so many aspects of agriculture," he said after Link's appointment was announced. "He will serve all of America's agricultural producers - as well as our consumers - extremely well."

Much of Link's first two weeks in office have consisted of learning personnel and their roles within the agency. GIPSA is filled with capable people, Link said.

"(They're) aware of what is going on in the industry. They also are aware of their capabilities and their restrictions," he said. "I think they are doing a pretty good job with what they have to work with."

Though a livestock producer and on committees and boards with livestock producers in Texas, Link said he has not heard any views from cattle producers about the agency or its regulatory work since accepting his new position.

"I really haven't gotten any feed back from any cattle producers since I've been here to see what they are thinking on that," he said.

Groups such as the Organization for Competitive Markets have criticized the influence of NCBA in filling several top USDA positions. A report released Wednesday by a coalition called the Revolving Door Working Group made a similar claim questioning the business influence in government appointments. The working group consists of 15 organizations ranging from Public Citizen to the American Corn Growers Association.

"He's from my county and I don't know him," said Larry Mitchell, chief executive officer of the American Corn Growers Association and a native of Tarrant County, Texas. "It is another NCBA person and you've got to wonder how many does it take?"

Link said his involvement in agriculture his entire adult life and educational work at TCU qualified him for the position as did his work running Link Cattle Co. in Crowley, Texas.

"I would assume that they feel I'm qualified to be able to do the job," he said. "I would like to think that's how it is, anyhow."

As a professor, Link said, he never conducted any research for or about GIPSA or wrote any articles about the agency's work. As a producer he didn't have any specific dealings with the agency.

"I really had no association with them other than to watch them from the producer side to see what they do," he said.

Loyd said GIPSA needs someone who is a very good administrator. Not having worked with GIPSA in the past isn't a drawback, he said.

"That someone hasn't worked with a specific agency doesn't mean they don't know the industry," Loyd said. "Quite frankly, that brings a good and fresh perspective to government service. How many of us have worked with these particular programs prior to leading?"
 
A

Anonymous

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"I don't know what a GIPSA administrator does or is supposed to do-- but I is one now" :???:

Good old boy cronyism at its greatest--Best government money can buy....... :cry: :mad:
 

Econ101

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I like to wait and see if he has the ability and will to change GIPSA into a real regulatory agency that is supposed to enforce the PSA or if he is another patsy. We will know soon enough. He has a lot of packer industry bias to overcome.

Sometimes you have to ride a horse before you know how good he is ehh, Fasterhorses?
 
A

Anonymous

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I'm sure if he isn't some R-CULT packer blaming conspiracy theorist, you guys wouldn't give him the time of day. Facts have never mattered to you, what matters to you is having someone to blame and someone telling you what you want to hear.


~SH~
 

HAY MAKER

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Econ101 said:
I like to wait and see if he has the ability and will to change GIPSA into a real regulatory agency that is supposed to enforce the PSA or if he is another patsy. We will know soon enough. He has a lot of packer industry bias to overcome.

Sometimes you have to ride a horse before you know how good he is ehh, Fasterhorses?

Nope I been down the horse riding theory road with this bunch long enough,I believe its obvious why he's there..............good luck
 

Econ101

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HAY MAKER said:
Econ101 said:
I like to wait and see if he has the ability and will to change GIPSA into a real regulatory agency that is supposed to enforce the PSA or if he is another patsy. We will know soon enough. He has a lot of packer industry bias to overcome.

Sometimes you have to ride a horse before you know how good he is ehh, Fasterhorses?

Nope I been down the horse riding theory road with this bunch long enough,I believe its obvious why he's there..............good luck

Experience is the culmination of observation. You are certainly better versed in that subject than I. I hope you are wrong.
 

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