USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced the resignation of USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, praising her service but providing little insight into her departure.
"USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has helped USDA achieve record results over the past four years. She has played a vital role in the Department-wide focus on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, as well as our efforts to achieve budget efficiencies and savings during an uncertain budget time," Vilsack said in a statement. "I deeply appreciate her service, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
Deputy Secretary Merrigan has led USDA's efforts to implement important regulations, and she has been an advocate for the National Organic Program, Vilsack added.
According to her official USDA biography, Merrigan in 2009 became the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Time magazine named Dr. Merrigan among the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2010.
Before becoming Deputy Secretary, Merrigan served for eight years as Assistant Professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment graduate program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, Mass. She also served as Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and for six years as a senior staff member for the Senate Ag Committee, working for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Vilsack did not indicate a timeline for Merrigan's departure.