April 10, 2009
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that three members of his subcabinet, who were confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate, have been officially sworn into office. In private ceremonies, the oath of office was administered to Kathleen A. Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture; Jim Miller, under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services; and Joe Leonard, assistant secretary for civil rights.
Several national agriculture groups sent a letter supporting Merrigan to Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), chair and the ranking member, respectively, on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
"Because of Merrigan's extensive experience, intellectual rigor and commitment to working with all of the stakeholders within the agricultural community, we support Merrigan for the position of Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)," the group noted.
They letter continued by stating that Merrigan has consistently shown an openness to work with a diverse set of interests across the agriculture spectrum to improve the lives of this nation's producers and consumers.
In another letter to Harkin and Chambliss, agricultural groups supported the nomination of Dallas Tonsager to be under secretary for USDA's Rural Development.
"Tonsager is a leader who demonstrates passion for strengthening our small towns and creating an improved quality of life for rural citizens. He has a strong agricultural foundation and has shown a strong commitment to promoting and implementing innovative strategies to benefit rural communities," the endorsement stated.