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Harsdorf on short list for top agriculture post?

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, shown here during a February visit to Willow River State Park, confirmed she has been in talks with Gov. Scott Walker's office about agriculture, trade and consumer protection secretary position. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf has been in talks with the governor's office regarding the top agriculture position within his cabinet.

The River Falls Republican confirmed she and members of Gov. Scott Walker's office discussed the position — secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer protection — currently held by interim Secretary Jeff Lyon. He was appointed to the post in August after former Secretary Ben Brancel retired.

"We had a good conversation," Harsdorf said last week.

She declined to elaborate on the talks. A spokesman from Walker's office also had little comment after being asked about Harsdorf as a possible replacement.

"We are still going through the process," Communications Director Tom Evenson said. "We will appoint a DATCP secretary as soon as possible."

Harsdorf served 10 years in the state Assembly before being elected in 2001 to the Senate, where she has served since.

In addition to serving on the powerful Joint Finance Committee, Harsdorf sits on the Senate's Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee. She chairs the Universities and Technical Colleges Committee and serves as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Information Policy and Technology.

If appointed to the post by Walker, Harsdorf would become the second person in her family to serve in the role. Her brother Jim Harsdorf served under former Gov. Scott McCallum as Wisconsin's agriculture secretary from 2001 to 2003. He previously served in the same Senate seat that Sheila was elected to after Jim Harsdorf was appointed to the agriculture post.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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