Ag Policy Blog

White House Announces New USDA Nominations

By Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

President Barack Obama intends to nominate Krysta Harden, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s chief of staff, as Agriculture deputy secretary. Harden would succeed Kathleen Merrigan, who resigned in May.

Harden has been chief of staff since 2011 and before that served as assistant secretary for congressional relations at USDA since Obama took office in 2009.

From 2004 to 2009, she served as the chief executive officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts, and from 1993 to 2003, she was the senior vice president of Gordley Associates.

Harden served as staff director for the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Peanuts and Tobacco from 1992 to 1993. From 1981 to 1992, she held a number of roles including legislative director, chief of staff, and press secretary for Rep. Charles Hatcher, D-Ga., to whom she is now married.

Harden received a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.

The White House said Obama also intends to nominate Robert Bonnie, a senior policy adviser in Vilsack’s office since 2009, as USDA undersecretary for natural resources and environment.

Bonnie would succeed Harris Sherman, who resigned in May.

Bonnie worked for the Environmental Defense Fund from 1995 to 2008, holding a number of positions including vice-president of land conservation and wildlife and managing director of the Center for Conservation Incentives.

He served on the board of visitors at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, and was a member of the board of directors for the Piedmont Environmental Council and Scenic America.

Bonnie received a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard College and master of forestry and master of environmental management degrees from the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment.


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