Merrigan tapped to fill deputy spot at USDA

Feb 27, 2009
by WLJ

President Barack Obama chose Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University who helped develop U.S. organic food labeling rules, to be deputy secretary of agriculture, the White House said last Monday. The deputy agriculture secretary usually oversees day-to-day operations of USDA. Merrigan was head of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999- 2001 and helped develop USDA’s rules on organic labeling. As a Senate aide, she worked on the 1990 law that recognized organic farming.

“She will bring to USDA extensive expertise in agricultural marketing and nutrition and in legislative affairs and will provide excellent, experienced leadership as we move President Obama’s agricultural and nutritional agenda forward,” added secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Merrigan, who went to work at Tufts in Boston after serving at USDA, has worked at the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture and as a consultant for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization from 1994-99. She worked on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee from 1987-92.

She has a doctoral degree in environmental planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Earlier this month, Vilsack said he submitted several suggestions to the White House to fill slots at USDA. —WLJ