Castille Joins Trump's USDA Landing Team

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by Don Molino

Carrie Castille, a former associate commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, is the newest member of President-elect Donald Trump's landing team for the USDA, according to an update on the transition team's website.       

The addition of Castille brings the number of people leading the transition effort at USDA to two. Brian Klippenstein, executive director of Protect the Harvest, an agriculture group founded by oil executive Forrest Lucas, has been the sole volunteer preparing the USDA for a new administration since mid-December.

Castille served in Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain's senior leadership cabinet for more than seven years, leaving her position a little more than a year ago to do consulting. She advised Strain on federal and state policy issues, including the 2014 farm bill, the Clean Water Act and nutrient management systems. Before that, Castille was an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, a position she held for more than a decade.

Trump's transition efforts at USDA have been moving slowly because of his transition team's appointment and removal of two landing team heads over the last few months. Senate Agriculture Committee Staff Director Joel Leftwich was tapped to lead the landing team in late November after lobbyist Michael Torrey stepped down from the post in response to the president-elect's five-year lobbying ban.

Leftwich was removed from the position last month as questions swirled about how much of a role he could or should have in the transition given that his committee will be confirming many key USDA appointments.