USA – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has appointed three individuals to take up senior leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Dr. Mindy Brashears was named Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University.

She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas.

Naomi Earp, a retired civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling and employment law, was appointed deputy assistant secretary for civil rights.

Perdue named Scott Hutchins, PhD as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics.

Dr. Hutchins will oversee the Office of the Chief Scientist, with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young continuing to serve as Acting Chief Scientist.

Scott was recently the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.

“At USDA, we’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” said Perdue.

“I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process.

Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people. Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”

The newly-appointees had been previously nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA but nominations expired without receiving confirmation votes in early January.