Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Organic food expert named USDA undersecretary

Ending weeks of speculation and lobbying, President Obama announced his choice for the No. 2 spot at the Department of Agriculture this week. The selection of Kathleen Merrigan "was immediately welcomed by sustainable agriculture and food policy advocates who have been lobbying hard for progressive appointments at an agency that has historically has emphasized programs that support commercial farming," wrote Jane Black of The Washington Post.

Merrigan "helped draft the 1990 legislation that recognized organic farming while a staffer for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)," reports Black. "She then went on to head the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, which drafted rules for organic labeling under her leadership."

"We think it's great news," said David Murphy, director of Food Democracy Now, a nonprofit group that has petitioned for the appointment of candidates that support smaller, sustainable farms over commercial enterprises. Merrigan was number nine on their list of preferred candidates for the post. (Read more)

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