Carol Foreman was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for food and consumer services last Friday. At the White House Rose Garden ceremony, President Carter added a new responsibility to those she already has.
In his remarks before Foreman took the oath of office, the President asked her to help him keep his personal food bill down. Recently Carter expressed dismay when he discovered his family's personal food bill for the first 10 days in the White House was $600.
In a more serious vein, Carter called Foreman's appointment "an innovative role for the Agriculture Department" that would give consumers a "strong, forceful, competent spokesman in Agriculture."
He also repeated what he had said many times during the campaign: "What's best for family farmers is best for consumers."
Carter said Foreman has "complete freedom and instructions from me to be an advocate for consumers and a representative of farm families as well."
Foreman, who was executive director of Consumer Federation of America, faced some strong opposition from the Senate Agriculture Committee over her appointment. She was called back for an unprecedent second day of hearings on her nomination by those who felt she is opposed to agriculture interests and those who believe a strong consumer representative in the department is inappropriate.
The President alluded to her difficulties before the committee. He said she had taken up the slack after the furor over the Warnke nomination had died down and had provided "excitement in my life for two days."
Following the Rose Garden ceremonies, a reception was held for the new Assistant Secretary at USDA. Ironically, the room chosen for it had often in the past been the scene of Foreman's confrontation with USDA officials.
Just last year she and several other consumer advocates had marched into an advisory panel meeting demanding consumer representation on the panel. To dramatize their lack of voice in the deliberations they wore scarves over their mouths.
But Friday many of the same consumer activists were there smiling and greeting each other with the same refrain: "This is a great day for consumers."
Asked another: "How does it feel to be part of the establishment?"
"I don't know, I haven't been here long enough," was the reply.