U.S. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns resigned his position Sept. 19 to possibly pursue a Senate seat.

Chuck Conner, deputy ag secretary, has been named acting secretary of agriculture.

“It has been a great honor to serve you and the American people as secretary of agriculture for nearly three years,” Johanns wrote in his resignation letter to President Bush. “ … I have decided to pursue a new opportunity to serve this great Nation.”

New reports speculate that that opportunity will be to run for Nebraska Republican Chuck Nagel’s Senate seat. Nagel said earlier this month that he won't seek re-election to a third term and that he has urged Johanns to run.

Conner, who grew up on his family's farm in Benton County, IN, worked with his father and brother raising corn, soybeans and cattle. As deputy ag secretary, he has participated in farm bill listening sessions around the country and led the USDA review of more than 4,000 comments used to develop a policy direction.

In Johanns’ resignation letter, he pointed out that farm equity, now at $2 trillion, has increased $200 billion/year for the past several years and that the debt-to-asset ratio is the lowest in more than 45 years. Projected 2007 net cash income is at a record-high $86 billion. The average U.S. farm household income is projected at $81,500 this year, nearly $20,000 above the average household income in the U.S.