She served as Virginia’s 16th commissioner of agriculture
By Diego Flammini
The American ag industry now knows who will serve as the deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Senate confirmed Dr. Jewel Bronaugh for the position on Thursday with a bipartisan voice vote. Her confirmation means she’s the first African American woman to hold the role.
Bronaugh is just the fourth woman to be deputy secretary.
She joins Ann Veneman (1991 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush), Kathleen Merrigan (2009 to 2013) and Krysta Harden (2013 to 2016). Both Merrigan and Harden served In President Obama’s administration.
As deputy secretary, Bronaugh will be responsible for day-to-day USDA operations.
President Biden nominated her for the position prior to his inauguration in January.
Bronaugh became Virginia’s 16th ag commissioner in 2018.
In 2019 she launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force to increase awareness and support for mental health challenges in the ag sector.
Her industry experience also includes serving as the Virginia State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency and as a 4-H extension specialist with Virginia State University.
Bronaugh’s colleagues welcomed her to the USDA.
Her experience will serve her well in her new role, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Dr. Bronaugh has a long, distinguished career as an educator and champion for farmers and rural communities,” he said in a May 13 statement. “Most recently as the 16th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services she worked to expand opportunities for small and midsized farmers and ranchers to obtain infrastructure and processing capabilities, and developed strategies to meet environmental and water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay.”
Farm groups look forward to working with the new deputy secretary.
The support she received from both parties indicates the confidence lawmakers have in her, said Zippy Divall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“AFBF congratulates Dr. Jewel Bronaugh on her confirmation as USDA Deputy Secretary,” he said in a statement. “Not only is the confirmation historic, the bipartisan vote is an acknowledgement from both parties that she is focused on the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers.”