President Obama named Kathleen Merrigan, a Tufts professor and a central figure for more than two decades in organic and sustainable farm policy, to the No. 2 position at USDA.
This amounts to a major win for organic, sustainable and local food advocates, since Merrigan is not only well-versed in these issues but has been a tireless advocate for them. Most notably, she wrote the Organic Food Production Act -- the law that governs the entire organic food sector -- as a staffer for Vermont Sen. Leahy back in the 1980s, then worked at USDA and the Wallace Center, before moving to Tufts.
Although she had put forth her name for an undersecretary position -- I blogged about her here
-- I hadn't heard any talk that she was in the running for the No. 2 position.
"Sustainable and organic farmers are excited ... that someone who has been associated with these issues her whole career is going to be at that level in the department," said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
That sentiment will be echoed far and wide.
- Samuel Fromartz