Kathleen Merrigan, who had been serving as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under Tom Vilsack, announced on March 14 that she would be stepping down from her post at the end of April.
Merrigan has been considered a success in the organic community, advocating for beginning farmer programs, the National Organic Program, and the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. As such, the organic community will be pushing for a replacement that holds the same beliefs regarding organics as Merrigan, as she was a ardent supporter of the industry in her short time at the USDA.
Merrigan put out a statement through her office on the 15th, stating “I hope that during my tenure, I was able to help open USDA’s doors a little wider, inviting new and discouraged constituencies to participate in USDA programs…I am able to leave fully confident that, USDA will thrive and continue to improve its service to the American people.”
Whoever the new Deputy Secretary will be, he or she will face some serious challenges going into the future, the most serious of which being the stalled Farm Bill, which has yet to even reach Congress for a vote.