USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh’s announced retirement last week will soon leave a key department post without a political appointee.  Bronaugh’s announcement she wants to spend more time with her family is a key loss for USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack.  Senate Ag Ranking Member John Boozman said this role is a key one.


“The position coordinates day-to-day operations within the department and efforts across agencies. The deputy secretary’s tasked with implementing the departmental mission. The deputy secretary receives input from outside the agency and stays up to date on issues and trends in the agriculture arena.”


Allowing the Secretary, he noted, to spend more time promoting USDA’s efforts and the administration’s agenda around the country and overseas.  And Boozman said the lack of a political appointee in the number two post, even temporarily, could be a challenge on top issues.


“Including how the administration works with our producers on issues involving the environment and climate. In recent years, production agriculture has taken many strides to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. So, we need USDA and other federal agencies to acknowledge that work and see agriculture as part of the solution, not part of the problem.”


Complaining against “heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all” rules versus bipartisan policies that don’t “mandate specific farming practices”—just one of many sensitive issues where a political appointee is needed.


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