Chairwoman Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing on Deputy Agriculture Secretary Nominee Dr. Jewel Bronaugh

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following opening statement at the hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Live video of the hearing is available here.

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

I call this hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to order. Everyone on this Committee knows the breadth of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and how it affects every American—whether they are a farmer or rancher facing severe drought, a family struggling to make ends meet, or a small town looking to provide high-speed internet to its residents.

I’m pleased that today we are here to consider a nominee for a position that covers the scope of those issues and more at the USDA. Dr. Bronaugh, welcome and congratulations on your nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. You have a very impressive and wide-ranging agricultural background, and have worked on some of the most important issues to American farmers, families, and rural communities. 

As Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, you led one of the most diverse agricultural states in the country – slightly behind Michigan – growing everything from apples to peanuts to turkeys. You also have a track record as a strong leader in helping Virginia farmers, families, and rural communities weather the pandemic. You’re also no stranger to USDA. For two years, you were the Virginia State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency, overseeing Virginia’s local Farm Service Agency offices, which serve on the front lines helping farmers and ranchers.

You know firsthand the important role USDA plays in helping farmers and ranchers tap into resources that will help them grow and sustain their farms. Whether it’s a dairy farmer signing up for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, a soybean producer applying for “ARC”, or a beginning farmer learning about how to start their operation – you have valuable experience working directly with farmers on the ground. You also know how conservation can help farmers be productive and profitable while also protecting land and water and addressing the climate crisis.

I trust that you will bring that perspective to this role. You also have extensive experience in agricultural research, which is fundamental to the success of American agriculture. As dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University, you oversaw important research and innovation that helps our farmers grow the food that feeds the world. When we met last week, you and I also discussed how we can support all corners of American agriculture. Big and small, urban and rural, we need to make sure there is opportunity for all farmers – no matter what you grow or how you grow it.

Dr. Bronaugh has the support of a wide range of organizations representing food and farming, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, United Fresh Produce Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and a variety of state and local groups, including several from my home state of Michigan. I ask that such letters be included in the record. So ordered.

Thank you again for being here and I look forward to hearing more about your plans and vision today.