Late last week before recessing for a two week break, the Senate Agriculture Committee cofirmed Kathleen Merrigan as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, the number two job! Her understanding of the link between the food system, plant systems, and climate change means we may well see some meaningful research on this important link.
A member of the sustainable ag "dream team," Merrigan brings decades of policy and administrative experience to the job. From 1987 to 1992, she was an ag committee staffer, and helped craft the legislation that created the National Organic Program (NOP), and then, and from 1999 to 2001 was Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of which the NOP is a part.
Her most recent position was as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. All the while she has remained engaged in the ongoing development of a greener food system.
As she noted in her testimony, if confirmed "one of my priorities will be to communicate the important contributions made by farmers and ranchers in protecting and enhancing our natural resources, such as mitigating climate change."
It is hard to imagine a more forward-looking, progressive choice for this position! If you would like to see a webcast of the hearing, it is available on the Senate Ag Committee website.