U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan has resigned from the department, according to a statement from USDA.
In a statement from Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, he said Merrigan "has helped USDA achieve record results over the past four years." Merrigan has been integral in implementing important regulations including the new school lunch rules and Vilsack said she was also "an important advocate for a strong National Organic Program."
"She has played a vital role in the Department-wide focus on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, as well as our efforts to achieve budget efficiencies and savings during an uncertain budget time," Vilsack said. "I deeply appreciate her service, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Merrigan said it was an ambitious first term. "From implementing the 2008 farm bill, improving school meals, expanding opportunities for American farmers, spending countless hours in the White House situation room, to shepherding USDA budgets through challenging times, it has been an honor to play a small part in history," she said.
Merrigan's departure was unexpected and no reason given for the decision. Reports indicate she will stay on until May.