Former North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer was confirmed Monday by the United States Senate as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schafer replaces Mike Johanns, who resigned as secretary last September.

"I congratulate [Schafer] on his Senate confirmation today and I look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "It is critical that USDA work with Congress to overcome the challenges in completing a new farm bill for the department to implement. Governor Schafer's leadership can help make this new farm bill a reality."

Acting Secretary Chuck Conner has headed the agency since September,