Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns resigned from office on Sept. 20, reportedly to seek an open U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska.

In announcing the resignation, President George Bush said Johanns “brought focus and energy to the department,” but was “serious about going home and possibly serving the nation in a different capacity.”

Bush announced Johanns’ resignation at a Rose Garden ceremony. He said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner would assume the duties as acting secretary.

Several state officials said that Johanns is expected to seek the Senate seat being vacated at the end of next year by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).

Several officials criticized the departure of Johanns prior to Congress’ completion of the new farm bill, a goal he said he wanted to reach by the end of the year. The current version expires Sept. 30.