WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Three individuals have been selected for senior leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Mindy Brashears, PhD, has been named deputy undersecretary for food safety. Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas.
Naomi Earp was named deputy assistant secretary for civil rights. Earp is a retired civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling and employment law.
Scott Hutchins, PhD, was selected as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics. He recently was the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.
The three individuals previously were nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at the USDA, but their nominations expired in early January at the end of the 115th Congress. President Trump has resubmitted their nominations to the Senate in the 116th Congress. In the meantime, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, has appointed the individuals to positions that do not require Senate confirmation.
“At USDA, we’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” Perdue said. “I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people. Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”
The three have been re-nominated for more senior roles than the ones Perdue selected them to fill in their respective mission areas at the USDA. Brashears was nominated for under secretary for food safety; Earp was nominated for assistant secretary for civil rights; and Hutchins was nominated for under secretary for research, education, and economics.
While in their deputy roles as selected by Perdue, they will not be serving in “acting” capacities for the positions for which they have been nominated. As a result, they will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions, the USDA said.