WASHINGTON– Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today made the following statement on her plans to depart the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the end of February 2016:
“Today is bittersweet for me as I announce my decision to step down as Deputy Secretary at the end of February. I am proud of what our Department has accomplished since 2009 to bring economic opportunity that will help rural America thrive for generations to come. And although I will not be part of the many great and transformational things USDA will accomplish over the next year, I am more committed than ever to USDA’s mission. We have worked hard over the past seven years to make USDA truly the People’s Department, as demonstrated by this Administration’s commitment to bring young people, women, veterans and equal access to the forefront of food and agriculture policy.
“I began my service to USDA in the Office of Congressional Relations, where our team helped shepherd two of the most significant pieces of legislation in our time here—the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and securing funding from Congress to help resolve outstanding claims of discrimination by African American farmers. Each achievement charted a new path toward a brighter future for our country and symbolized USDA’s deep commitment under the Obama Administration to create opportunity for all Americans.
“As the Secretary’s Chief of Staff, I had the pleasure of working with many bright and talented USDA employees who have dedicated their lives to helping rural America thrive. From college interns to seasoned professionals with 60 years of federal service, our employees are resilient and creative, finding ways to do more with less, year after year. Because of their hard work and dedication, the next generation will inherit a rural America that is stronger, more diverse, and more capable of rising to the challenges of the next decade.
“As Deputy Secretary, I am proud to lead the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, like USDA, impacts every American and millions of people around the world, and I was grateful to play a small part in helping to achieve important, meaningful reforms for the future of agriculture through its implementation. More than anything, I am grateful to have traveled across the country to visit with young people, women, and veterans, interested in farming and ranching. I take comfort in knowing today’s USDA is there to support their dreams.
“Finally, I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Vilsack for the opportunity to be part of their team. As the proud daughter of farmers and someone who cherishes rural values, I couldn’t have served for anyone more genuine and committed to making a difference than Secretary Vilsack. My work at USDA on behalf of our farmers, ranchers, producers and rural communities has been the greatest honor of my professional life.”