Biden announces Bronaugh as USDA deputy secretary |

Biden announces Bronaugh as USDA deputy secretary

President-elect Joe Biden today announced that he will nominate Jewel Bronaugh, the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as Agriculture deputy secretary.

The position requires Senate confirmation.

Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve as USDA deputy secretary, the Biden-Harris transition team noted in the announcement, and The Washington Post noted that the appointment may “help blunt” some Black leaders’ criticism of Biden’s appointment of Vilsack as secretary.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, appointed Bronaugh as Virginia agriculture commissioner in 2018. During the Obama administration, she served as the Virginia state executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency, appointed in July 2015 by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Vilsack, who was agriculture secretary in the Obama administration. The FSA executive director oversees the distribution of farm subsidies in the state.

In spring 2019, Bronaugh launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force, organized in partnership with agricultural and health agencies and organizations, to raise awareness and coordinate resources to address farmer stress and mental health challenges in Virginia. In the fall of 2020, she helped establish the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund, a new program to address food access issues within historically marginalized communities.

“As commissioner of VDACS, Dr. Bronaugh has been a true leader, promoting the agency’s core mission while taking on new challenges, including our COVID-19 pandemic response and farmer mental health, focusing economic development to improve food access in underserved communities, and engaging youth in the field of agriculture,” Northam said, according to a report by WWBT, a Richmond, Va., television station.

“I am proud that she will be representing both the commonwealth and all Americans in such a critical role at USDA and in this new administration,” Northam added.

After her time as FSA executive director and before her appointment in the Northam administration, Bronaugh served as the executive director of the Center of Agriculture Research, Engagement and Outreach at Virginia State University.

Before being appointed to FSA, she served as dean of the VSU College of Agriculture with oversight of extension, research and academic programs. Previously she was the associate administrator for extension programs and a 4-H extension specialist.

Bronaugh was the co-chair of a 2014 VSU study on food accessibility, which created a documentary called “Living in a Food Desert” to raise awareness about this growing problem in Virginia cities.

Bronaugh, a resident of Petersburg, Va., received a master’s and a doctoral degree in career and technical education from Virginia Tech and an undergraduate degree in education from James Madison University.

“She is passionate about the advancement of youth leadership in agriculture,” the Biden-Harris announcement said.

The appointment was one of several announced today, including women to be deputy secretaries of four other departments.


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