February 4, 2021
Secretary of Agriculture-designee Tom Vilsack will have his team partly in place even before he is confirmed, as seems likely. In recent weeks, the Biden administration announced several political appointments, including key staff in the Office of the Secretary as well as deputy under secretaries, in several mission areas that directly affect the egg industry. The appointments include:
- Katherine Ferguson as Chief of Staff to the Secretary. The COS post is among the most influential in the Department and serves several functions, including ensuring that the USDA's multiple agencies are carrying out the Secretary’s wishes. Ferguson worked at both USDA and the White House during the Obama administration.
- Robert Bonnie as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor, Climate, in the Office of the Secretary. Bonnie is an environmental expert who was Under Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources in the Obama administration. His recent work has focused on creating a carbon bank within USDA to enhance the value of carbon credits generated by farmers through regenerative agricultural practices.
- Mae Wu as Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP). She is an attorney who has worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 2006. This mission area includes agencies that are important to the egg industry, including the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
- Stacy Dean as Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS). Dean is a longtime nutrition advocate at the respected Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. She will oversee the Food and Nutrition Service, which operates multiple programs that use eggs and egg products, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (which makes donations to food banks) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which includes shell eggs in most food packages for more than 6 million participants.