Biden-Harris Administration

The Biden-Harris agency review team for USDA (see below) is actively gathering policy ideas for the new administration to consider. This is a window for organizations – including SAFSF, our members and our members’ grantee partners – to put policy priorities on the table and raise their voices in the conversations that will shape how the new administration’s agriculture, food system, and climate policies will play out on the ground. This is administrative policy advocacy, not lobbying. Foundations are free to engage in non-lobbying administrative policy advocacy.

USDA Appointments

updated February 3, 2021

Office of the Secretary

  • Tom Vilsack – Secretary
    • Katharine Ferguson – Chief of Staff
    • Robert Bonnie – Special Advisor/Dep Chief of Staff
  • Jewel Bronaugh – Deputy Secretary
  • Sara Bleich – Senior Advisor for Pandemic Response

Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC)

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • Mike Schmidt – Senior Advisor
    • Farm Service Agency
      • Marcus Graham – Deputy Administrator for Field Operations
    • Natural Resource Conservation Service
    • Risk Management Agency

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • Stacy Dean – Deputy Under Secretary
    • Special Advisor on Nutrition – Kumar Chandran

Food Safety

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • TBD – Deputy Under Secretary

Marketing and Regulatory

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • Mae Wu – Deputy Under Secretary
    • Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS)
    • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Natural Resources and Environment

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • TBD – Deputy Under Secretary

Research, Education and Economics
(ARS, ERS, NASS, NIFA, OCS)

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • TBD – Deputy Under Secretary

Rural Development

  • TBD – Under Secretary
  • Justin Maxson – Deputy Under Secretary
    • Chief of Staff – Farah Ahmad
  • Senior Advisor – Olugbenga Ajilore
  • Office of General Counsel
    • David Grahn – Principal Deputy General Counsel
  • Office of Communications
    • Matt Herrick – Director of Communications

You can find a full listing of over 7,000 positions available throughout the federal government for noncompetitive (political) appointment in the government’s Plum Book. See USDA-specific listings here.

There is also a Join Us page on the White House website where anyone can apply for the thousands of additional political slots that will be filled across hundreds of offices at USDA and other agencies.

This Partnership for Public Service maintains a Political Appointee Tracker for more than 750 political appointments.

New Congressional Leadership

House Update
The House Democrats are moving forward with committee assignments, including committee chairs and subcommittee chairs.

The House Agriculture Committee Chair will be Congressman David Scott (D-GA 13th). On January 14, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced committee appointments, including the Agriculture Committee. You can find those here. Please note, this is not the full slate from what we can tell. 

In addition, we do not have the full Republican roster as of yet, but do know that House Republicans have named the following new members to the Agriculture Committee: Congresswoman Michelle Fishback (MN 7th), Tracey Mann (KS 1st), Randy Feenstra (IA 4th), Michael Cloud (TX 27th), Kat Cammack (FL 3rd), Barry Moore (AL 2nd), and Mary Miller (IL 15th).

The House Appropriations Committee Chair, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd) announced the Democratic roster for the House Appropriations Committee’s 12 subcommittees. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Subcommittee will again be chaired by Rep. Sanford Bishop, Jr. (GA 2nd). You can see the full roster here.

The House Republicans named ranking members for committees, you can find those here. We will keep you posted as additional committee assignments are announced.  
Senate Update
The Senate committee assignments have been delayed due to Senator Mitch McConnell’s (KY) demand regarding preservation of the 60-vote margin on major legislation. Senator McConnell recently agreed to move forward so we should see movement on committee assignments and the Democratic members are now assuming their committee leadership.

This initial delay, in conjunction with the retirement of Senator Pat Roberts, who was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has put the Committee behind on confirmation hearings for USDA appointments. We will see movement now as Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) takes leadership of the Committee.

Administration Priorities

The incoming administration has identified the following as immediate priority issues:

  • COVID-19
  • Climate
  • Racial Equity
  • Economy
  • Health Care
  • Immigration
  • Restoring America’s Global Standing

There are opportunities within each of these priorities to advocate for policy ideas that support a just, equitable and sustainable food and agriculture system.

Policy Priority Statements from the Field

To add your organization’s priority statement to this list, please email Traci Bruckner, [email protected].