(Washington, D.C.) -- The U.S. Senate late last week confirmed Jewell Bronaugh as deputy secretary of agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bronaugh comes to USDA after previously serving as the Virginia State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency. Prior, she was the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University and has experience working as a 4-H Extension Specialist.

During last month’s Senate Ag Committee confirmation hearing, Bronaugh expressed excitement for the future of agriculture.

“What motivates me and inspires me is that with all of the challenges farmers, ranchers and landowners face today, I have never met one who is not eternally optimistic.”

Bronaugh then highlighted her strengths and qualifications for the number two position at USDA.

“I am very proud of my work in cooperative extension,” said Bronaugh. “This led to the honor of serving as Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. In 2015, Secretary Vilsack appointed me as the state executive director for the Farm Service Agency.”

The Senate Ag Committee hearing was held April 22nd. Bronaugh’s nomination advanced out of committee on May 10th with her confirmation taking place late Thursday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on her confirmation:

“Dr. Bronaugh’s confirmation is historic, as she will serve as the first Black woman and woman of color to serve as Deputy Secretary. Dr. Bronaugh has a long, distinguished career as an educator and champion for farmers and rural communities.”

Bronaugh was appointed the 16th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2018 by Governor Ralph Northam.

In spring 2019, Dr. Bronaugh launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force 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 and Program, the first statewide program of its kind to address food access within historically marginalized communities.

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