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Praise for Obama's USDA deputy choice

February 24, 2009 |  8:31 am



Some sustainable and organic farming advocates are happy about the president's choice for the No. 2 spot at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan.

"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," Samuel Fromartz wrote on his ChewsWise blog.

The Consumers Union also praised the choice. "We would expect her to be a strong defender of USDA’s organic standards, which have been under repeated attack for the last several years," said Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at the organization.

And on Civil Eats, Paula Crossfield wrote, "While our fight is far from finished, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that finally the interests of eaters everywhere will have a voice at the USDA."

Merrigan is now an assistant professor and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at Tufts University. She has been administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and helped develop the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which mandated national organic standards and a program of federal accreditation.

President Obama on Monday announced his intention to nominate Merrigan to be deputy secretary at the USDA.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Bill Coleman organizes produce at the farmers market in Santa Monica. Credit: Allen Schaben / Los Angeles Times