Reaction to Bronaugh’s Decision to Step Down from USDA Post


USDA Deputy Secretary Jewell Bronaugh announced she’ll be leaving her post at the end of February.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says his organization has enjoyed working with the deputy secretary for the last two years of her tenure with the agency. “We want to thank her for her service to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Duvall says. “She has long been someone who understands the needs of farmers and rural communities. We’ve appreciated her leadership and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

House Ag Committee Ranking Democrat David Scott congratulated Bronaugh on a job well done. “Deputy Secretary Bronaugh’s time at the department was historic, serving as the first African American woman in the role,” Scott says. “During her time as Deputy, she uplifted American agriculture and our rural communities, something she’s long done throughout her career.” Scott also says she’s a champion for U.S. food and agriculture.

Bronaugh’s retirement to spend more time with her family is a key loss for USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Senate Ag Ranking Member John Boozman pointed to the importance of the deputy secretary’s post at Bronaugh’s confirmation hearing; “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 to spend more time promoting USDA’s efforts and the administration’s agenda around the country and overseas. And the lack of a political appointee in the number two post, even temporarily, could be a challenge on top issues.

Boozman; “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.