Ag Deputy Secretary Bronaugh wins praise as she departs |

Ag Deputy Secretary Bronaugh wins praise as she departs

After Agriculture Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced recently that she will leave her position in a few weeks, she won praise from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, David Scott, the former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and now the ranking member, and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

In her announcement, Bronaugh, the first African American woman to hold the position, said, “It is with mixed emotions that today I am announcing that I will step away from my role as deputy secretary in the coming weeks so I can spend more time with my family.”

“Serving in the Biden-Harris administration and having the opportunity to make history alongside Secretary Vilsack has truly been the greatest honor of my professional career,” she said.

“I continue to be in awe of all we have accomplished during these first two years. We are making historic investments in advancing equity and opportunity at USDA and have significantly bolstered food assistance programs to support those most in need.


“We are helping U.S. agriculture lead the way in climate-smart agriculture, opening more, new and better markets for our producers through trade missions to the UK and East Africa and other partner nations across the world and we are providing new and unprecedented support for underserved producers and rural communities.

“We launched and I have been honored to co-chair USDA’s first-ever Equity Commission, which will leave a lasting imprint for generations to come.

“To the people we serve, it is important that you know USDA’s commitment to becoming an agency that ensures all Americans have equitable access to USDA programs and services is truly sincere. I am the first one to admit the work to build and maintain trust among all we serve is no easy task. However, I have seen first-hand the intentional work being done each day to set USDA on a new and more inclusive path forward, working in close partnership with you and your local communities. We count on you to hold us accountable, and I know the USDA workforce looks forward to continuing to work alongside you for years to come.

“To the young people and next generation of agriculture leaders that I have had the pleasure of meeting at minority-serving land grant institutions across the country, keep working hard and dreaming big. I know the future of food and agriculture is in good hands.

”And to my staff and the USDA workforce, I will leave USDA in awe of your wisdom and dedication to those we serve. Together, we did the hard and intentional internal work each and every day to make USDA a great place to work for our employees. I look forward to continuing to support all of your work and hope to one day soon continue to pursue my love of agriculture.

“I thank Secretary Vilsack for his support, his thought-partnership, his unwavering commitment to supporting the communities that need it most, and for leading USDA toward fully living up to its moniker as ‘The People’s Department.’

“I now look forward to taking some time off to spend more quality time with my mom, husband and four children,” Bronaugh said.


Vilsack said Bronaugh’s “service, presence and leadership will be sorely missed.”

“She has been an incredible partner over the last two years, and she has been instrumental in helping the department seize opportunity and address a host of challenges. We are all deeply grateful for her service.

“Deputy Secretary Bronaugh has accomplished a lot during her tenure at USDA and much of her work will be felt well into the future. She has been instrumental in advancing equity and opportunity, strengthening the international trade relationships that benefit our domestic producers, enhancing food assistance programs to help those in need, and increasing engagement in innovation and research key to expanding sustainable agriculture practices.

“With passion, energy, and a steady hand, she’s served as co-chair of USDA’s first-ever Equity Commission, an independent body that will provide recommendations for how USDA and Congress can take action to remove systemic inequities and reduce barriers that hamper access to USDA programs and policies; the goal is equitable access and opportunity for all farmers, ranchers, forest landowners — and all Americans.

“She was also instrumental in establishing a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office within the Office of the Secretary to institutionalize and sustain USDA’s governance and management of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, while contributing to attracting and retaining a workforce that is proud to represent USDA.

“The deputy has been a champion and partner in many ways; also notable is tirelessly working to strengthen USDA’s operations, support our employees and continue to make USDA a great place to work.

“Through her work and leadership, Dr. Bronaugh has set a powerful example for the next generation of agriculture leadership. She’s broken glass ceilings as the first African American and person of color to ever serve in her role at USDA and made history while inspiring many more — especially young people — to serve in the future, within USDA and throughout the food and agricultural sector.

“The department, all those who we serve, and I personally have greatly benefited from her service, knowledge and commitment to USDA’s mission, and very much respect her decision to put family first,” Vilsack said.

Scott said, ”Congratulations to USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh on a job well done. Deputy Secretary Bronaugh’s time at the Department of Agriculture was historic — serving as the first African American woman in the role.”

“During her time as deputy, she uplifted American agriculture and our rural communities, something she has long done throughout her career. She is a wonderful champion for our food and agriculture sectors in this country, and I offer my sincere gratitude for her service.”

Duvall said, “We’ve enjoyed working with Deputy Secretary Bronaugh for the last two years of her tenure at USDA and we thank her for her service to America’s farmers and ranchers. She has long been someone who understands the needs of farmers and rural communities, and we’ve appreciated her leadership. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

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