For more than five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not had a confirmed undersecretary in the essential mission area of food safety. Leading agricultural groups urged Senate leadership, in a letter, to approve the current nominee, Dr. Mindy Brashears, to the post as she continues to wait for full Senate approval.
The undersecretary for food safety position was last filled in 2013 by Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. Brashears was formally nominated for the position by President Donald Trump in May 2018. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue named Brashears deputy undersecretary for food safety -- a position that does not require Senate confirmation -- in January 2019.
“American consumers enjoy the safest and most secure food supply in the world, and for a position as critical to public trust to remain vacant for that period of time is in no one's best interest,” the letter stated.
Prior to her nomination, Brashears served as a professor of food safety and public health at Texas Tech University. She is widely recognized as an international leader in pre- and post-harvest environments and their relation to foodborne pathogens. Additionally, Brashears has led global efforts to improve food safety and ensure food security in underserved areas.
The letter reads, “Without a doubt, we believe Dr. Brashears is the best choice to fulfill this function. Her unique background and experience regarding food safety issues is unparalleled. Moreover, her work since assuming her duties as deputy undersecretary for food safety engaging with the regulated community, small and very small processing facilities and consumer groups have shown her leadership on these issues.”
The letter was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Assn., American Veterinary Medical Assn., Catfish Farmers of America, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute and United Egg Producers.