President Joe Biden has recently named Virginia’s Dr. Jewel Bronaugh as the administration’s deputy secretary of agriculture. She will serve with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, whom the president picked as his secretary of agriculture.
Vilsack previously led the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration.
Bronaugh is a lifelong Virginian, born in Petersburg and educated at James Madison University and Virginia Tech.
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor said Virginia has been fortunate in benefitting from Bronaugh’s leadership as commissioners of the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (VDACS), state Farm Service Agency executive director and dean of the Virginia State University College of Agriculture.
“She has done much to promote agriculture and address the many issues facing farm families and rural Virginia, and we support her swift confirmation,” Pryor said.
Bronaugh said she did not actively seek the USDA appointment. “However, I am absolutely honored with this opportunity to serve our nation’s farmers and agribusinesses,” she said. “I am looking forward to promoting U.S. agricultural products, improving economic opportunities, helping to end hunger, ensuring fairness and equity in the agricultural industry and preserving our nation’s natural resources.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Bronaugh’s nomination shows that Biden is carefully considering the challenges facing U.S. farmers. Bronaugh’s track record of experience “has established her as someone who understands the needs of America’s farmers,” Duvall said. “We also appreciate the work she has done to address mental health issues in rural communities.”
Rural mental health is a priority Bronaugh plans to continue to address at the federal level.
“Farmers have a strong sense of pride, and often they do not like to talk about their problems,” she said. “I would like to help raise awareness of farmer stress and mental health on a national level and develop a network of resources with a focus on rural areas.”
Duvall said the Vilsack and Bronaugh nominations are welcome news.
“Together, we must prepare to tackle a new farm bill and build on efforts to create a fair marketplace for U.S. agriculture to compete globally,” he said. “It is essential we ensure climate policies respect farmers and remain market-based and voluntary. And we must end the digital divide that puts rural America at a disadvantage.”