The job of Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection may not be saved. Wis. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he doesn’t believe Republicans will support the embattled secretary; they are in the majority in the Senate.
“I don’t see it,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald, Wis. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-13-Clyman, said the Senate plans to hold a debate today regarding Pfaff’s nomination.
While future leadership for department has not been determined if Pfaff is removed, Evers hasn’t ruled out elevating current deputy-secretary Randy Romanski to the role of secretary.
Pfaff, who served as deputy administrator for farm programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under former-President Barack Obama and most recently was deputy chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-3-Wisconsin-La Crosse. He drew the ire of some Republicans when he criticized the Legislature’s budget committee for failing to release funds for mental-health assistance to farmers and their families.
The ag department has also been under fire for proposed updates to Wisconsin’s livestock-siting regulations. The proposed regulations would update the state’s almost-14-year-old livestock-facility-siting rule ATCP 51. The rule is used by participating local governments to set standards and procedures – focused on setbacks from property, management plans, odor, nutrient and runoff management, and manure storage facilities – that must be followed by new or expanding livestock facilities.
Fitzgerald told Evers to withdraw Pfaff’s nomination – an action equivalent to firing him – because he doesn’t have the support from his 19-member caucus to confirm him.
Joel Brennan, administration secretary, said he is lobbying Senate Republicans to join Democrats on a motion to indefinitely postpone a confirmation vote for Pfaff in an effort to avoid his removal from office.
Several agricultural associations have expressed support for Pfaff’s confirmation, including the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, the Dairy Business Association and the Wisconsin Cheese Maker Association.