Since June 2017, Anne Hazlett has served as assistant to the secretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s attempt to streamline the agency after coming into office in 2017, he eliminated the undersecretary of rural development and instead made the position report directly to him, which eliminated the need to nominate an individual.
The move initially drew concerns from Congress, and the 2018 farm bill again required USDA to establish an undersecretary for rural development. Following Senate confirmation of the new undersecretary for rural development, the assistant to the secretary for rural development position would be eliminated.
Jim Carroll, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), announced that Hazlett has been named as the office’s senior adviser for rural affairs.
In her new role at ONDCP, Hazlett will help shape policy aimed at improving the quality of life in rural America, coordinate interagency efforts on drug control activity affecting rural communities and build coalitions and grassroots strategies in these areas centered on prevention, treatment and recovery.
“Rural communities across the United States have been particularly hard hit by our nation’s addiction crisis,” Carroll said. “Anne has a critical understanding of the unique challenges facing these communities and is committed to helping them reverse the effects of the opioid epidemic. We are looking forward to her joining our team as we build a stronger, healthier, drug-free society today and in the years to come.”
“During her time at USDA, Anne has been a tireless and proven leader in addressing the needs of rural communities struggling with substance misuse,” Perdue said. “With her love of people and passion for bringing hope to small towns impacted by this epidemic, Anne is perfectly suited for this important role. We are proud to see her take on this new opportunity, where she can focus on building healthy and prosperous communities.”
To help local leaders respond to the opioid epidemic, Hazlett led USDA’s efforts to build infrastructure for prevention, treatment and recovery, facilitate partnerships and drive innovation in rural communities. During Hazlett’s tenure, USDA worked with ONDCP to establish a White House Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group, which is improving coordination of federal resources in rural America. Hazlett also guided USDA to build and launch the Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox.
Because of Hazlett’s departure, Perdue named Joel Baxley, administrator of USDA’s Rural Housing Service, as acting assistant to the secretary for rural development. Perdue will soon name an acting administrator for the service. In the meantime, Perdue is working with the White House to identify a candidate to nominate as USDA undersecretary for rural development, the position created by the recent farm bill.