Ag News

USDA fills three senior leadership positions

On Jan. 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue selected three individuals for senior leadership positions at the USDA.  Perdue named Dr. Mindy Brashears as Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Dr. Scott Hutchins as Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.  These positions do not require Senate confirmation.

The three previously had been nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA. While the Senate Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan basis approved all three nominees, their nominations expired without being confirmaed by the end of the 115th Congress in early January. The president has resubmitted their nominations to the Senate in the 116th Congress.

The three have been re-nominated for more senior roles than the ones Perdue selected them to fill. Dr. Brashears was nominated for Under Secretary for Food Safety; Earp was nominated for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; and Dr. Hutchins was nominated for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

While in their deputy roles as selected by Perdue, they will not be serving in “acting” capacities for the positions for which they have been nominated.  As a result, they will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions.  Dr. Hutchins will oversee the Office of the Chief Scientist, with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young continuing to serve as Acting Chief Scientist.

Brashears is a Professor of Food Safety and Public Health and the Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University.

Earp is a retired career civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling, and employment law.

Dr. Hutchins formerly served as the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.