Obama Nominates Sustainable Agriculture Expert for USDA Post
Supporters of small-scale, independent farming everywhere should applaud Obama's choice for the USDA's second highest post, deputy secretary. Kathleen Merrigan, a recognized advocate for local and organic foods, is an assistant professor and Director at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.
"We at the U.S. Department of Agriculture welcome the President's intention to nominate Dr. Merrigan," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "She will bring to USDA extensive expertise in agricultural marketing and nutrition and in legislative affairs and will provide excellent, experienced leadership as we move President Obama's agricultural and nutritional agenda forward."
The nomination is welcome news for sustainable agriculture advocates that were disappointed with the confirmation of Vilsack -- who they saw as too closely allied with large-scale corporate agriculture. Sustainable agriculture and environmental groups urged the Obama transition team to pick someone with a strong background in food, conservation and sustainable agriculture for the No. 2 spot.
Merrigan was on the "sustainable dozen" list of potential USDA undersecretaries endorsed by high profile "foodies" like writer Michael Pollan.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition also praised the pick yesterday, calling Merrigan a "lifelong supporter of family farmers and sustainable and organic agriculture."
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