Three members of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s subcabinet, who were confirmed in early April by the U.S. Senate, have been officially sworn into office.
In private ceremonies, the oath of office was administered to Kathleen A. Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture; Jim Miller, under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services; and Joe Leonard, assistant secretary for civil rights.
“These are exceptional individuals who I am proud to say will be serving in USDA’s top leadership,” said Vilsack. “They have extensive experience in food and agricultural issues, policy-making and civil rights, as well as a strong personal commitment to the president’s goals for 21st century food and agriculture.
“I am pleased that they have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate and I am anxious to have them get started as we work to implement President Obama’s goal of revitalizing and rebuilding rural America.”
Merrigan was administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service in the Clinton administration. Since then, she has been director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Merrigan was a senior analyst at the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture in the 1990s and a consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. While serving on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, she helped develop the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
Miller operated a family farm in eastern Washington for two decades. He has vast experience with the National Farmers Union, National Association of Wheat Growers, Canada-U.S. Joint Commission on Grains, and the Senate Budget Committee.
Leonard has a strong academic, legislative and working history in civil rights. He has served with the office of Michigan Rep. Carolyn C. Kilpatrick, and held executive positions with the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Black Leadership Forum.