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California organic farmer nominated as USDA undersecretary

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Jenny Moffitt chosen to serve as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at USDA.

President Joe Biden nominated Jenny Lester Moffitt to serve as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs under Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Moffit currently serves as undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where she previously served as deputy secretary from 2015-18. Prior, Moffitt spent 10 years as managing director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation.

In an announcement from Biden, the release notes growing up and working on the farm, Moffitt learned first-hand the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it. Additionally, she served on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board from 2012-15 and worked for American Farmland Trust from 2002-05.

“As a farmer and policymaker, Moffitt has engaged with agricultural stakeholders on the critically important balance of sustaining our environment, strengthening our rural economies, and building healthy communities,” the Biden announcement adds.  

In a statement, Vilsack says the nomination of Moffitt “demonstrates that USDA is committed to putting the perspective of our producers at the heart of what we do.”

“If confirmed, Jenny will join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards – all tasks that she is well suited to take on,” says Vilsack. “With her guidance and leadership, USDA will help to build more robust and resilient local and regional food systems that support new, fairer market opportunities for American producers and food companies. She will be a welcomed addition to a growing USDA team.”

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross praised the nomination of Moffitt, who she called a "trusted colleague and a good friend" and "a shining example of the next generation of agricultural leadership."

Ross adds, "In Jenny’s seven years at CDFA (as undersecretary and deputy secretary) she has shown herself to be a tireless advocate for agriculture and the people of California. I have deeply valued her counsel and her leadership. She is detail-oriented and a talented problem solver who brings all stakeholders together, and her experience as a farmer places her in a very strong position to understand the challenges and opportunities ahead. I have no doubt that she’ll show the same acumen and dedication on behalf of all Americans. We are a remarkable nation with the greatest agricultural story in world history, and we have people like Jenny—working in both the production and policy arenas—to thank for it."

Related: Bonnie selected to serve as USDA undersecretary

Moffitt is the second undersecretary position to be nominated under Vilsack, following the recent announcement of Robert Bonnie as undersecretary for the Food, Production and Conservation division at USDA.

Moffitt is a graduate of Brown University and the California Agricultural Leadership Program. She resides in Davis, California with her husband and daughter.

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