President-elect Joe Biden announced Jewel Bronaugh to serve as incoming-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s deputy secretary at the agriculture department. If confirmed, Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve in the position and praised for her strong experience.
Bronaugh was appointed the Virginia agriculture commissioner in 2018 and previously served as the Virginia state executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency in 2015.
Prior to being appointed to FSA, she served as dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University with oversight of Extension, Research and Academic Programs. Previously she was the associate administrator for extension programs and a 4-H extension specialist.
In spring 2019, Bronaugh launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force, organized in partnership with agricultural and health agencies and organizations, to raise awareness and coordinate resources to address farmer stress and mental health challenges in Virginia. In the fall of 2020, she helped establish the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund, a new program to address food access issues within historically marginalized communities.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says Bronaugh’s background in farm services, research, and extension will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to the Department.
“As the first woman of color to serve in this position, she will be an important voice as the Biden Administration works to address the many challenges facing our farmers, families, and rural communities. I look forward to learning more about her plans and priorities during the confirmation process,” says Stabenow.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says Bronaugh’s experience establishes her as someone who understands the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers. “We also appreciate the work she has done to address mental health issues in rural communities - a priority we hope she continues to pursue at the federal level,” Duvall says.
John Boyd, president and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, says Bronaugh did not make the fate of black farmers a priority during her time as the FSA administrator or ag commissioner, however, “her appointment reflects an historic moment in the history of the USDA.”
Boyd adds: "We hope she will use her knowledge of the department to level the playing field for NBFA members as well as other minority and small-scale farmers and to end the culture of discrimination at the USDA.”