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Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
For her efforts to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers, create new opportunities for farmers and ranchers, support regional food infrastructure and bring agriculture into our daily conversations through efforts such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
Dr. Kathleen A. Merrigan is the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She oversees the day-to-day operation of USDA's many programs, spearheads the $149 billion USDA budget process, and serves on the President's Management Council, working to improve accountability and performance across the federal government. Merrigan has managed the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to highlight the critical connection between farmers and consumers and support local and regional food systems that increase economic opportunity in rural America. She served as assistant professor and director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment graduate program at Tufts University, and was administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Merrigan also served as a senior staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. In 2009 she made history as the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Recognizing the history and scope of her work, Time magazine named Merrigan among the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010. She holds a Ph.D. in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a M.A. in public affairs from the University of Texas, and a B.A. from Williams College.