Farm Futures logo

If confirmed, Jewel Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve as the No. 2 position at USDA.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

January 19, 2021

2 Min Read
Dr. Jewel Bronaugh is known for her experience as Virginia's state ag commissioner, FSA state executive director and as a supporter of extension and 4-H.Virginia Department of Agriculture

President-elect Joe Biden announced Jewel Bronaugh to serve as incoming-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s deputy secretary at the agriculture department. If confirmed, Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve in the position and praised for her strong experience.

Bronaugh was appointed the Virginia agriculture commissioner in 2018 and previously served as the Virginia state executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency in 2015.

Prior to being appointed to FSA, she served as dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University with oversight of Extension, Research and Academic Programs. Previously she was the associate administrator for extension programs and a 4-H extension specialist.

In spring 2019, Bronaugh launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force, organized in partnership with agricultural and health agencies and organizations, to raise awareness and coordinate resources to address farmer stress and mental health challenges in Virginia. In the fall of 2020, she helped establish the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund, a new program to address food access issues within historically marginalized communities.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says Bronaugh’s background in farm services, research, and extension will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to the Department.

“As the first woman of color to serve in this position, she will be an important voice as the Biden Administration works to address the many challenges facing our farmers, families, and rural communities. I look forward to learning more about her plans and priorities during the confirmation process,” says Stabenow. 

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says Bronaugh’s experience establishes her as someone who understands the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers. “We also appreciate the work she has done to address mental health issues in rural communities - a priority we hope she continues to pursue at the federal level,” Duvall says.

John Boyd, president and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, says Bronaugh did not make the fate of black farmers a priority during her time as the FSA administrator or ag commissioner, however, “her appointment reflects an historic moment in the history of the USDA.”

Boyd adds: "We hope she will use her knowledge of the department to level the playing field for NBFA members as well as other minority and small-scale farmers and to end the culture of discrimination at the USDA.”



About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like