As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue continues to reorganize the USDA, he announced three acting deputy under secretaries who will serve in their roles until the Senate confirms presidential appointees for the positions.
- Jason Hafemeister, until now serving as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, will now be Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, a newly created position.
- Dr. Robert Johansson will serve as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, while also concurrently remaining USDA’s Chief Economist.
- Dan Jiron will fill the role of Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. The Forest Service will be the only agency to report to Jiron.
“These three career USDA employees have already shown the leadership and expertise needed to deliver the highest quality service to our customers – the people of American agriculture,” Perdue said. “I welcome them to the leadership team and I thank them for their dedication to agriculture.”
Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs
Hafemeister has been involved in agricultural farm and trade policy for more than 25 years, including almost 20 at USDA and with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Hafemeister’s responsibilities have included serving as the lead U.S. negotiator on agriculture in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, and China’s accession to the WTO. He was instrumental in finalizing the recent agreement to allow the importing of U.S. beef to China. Hafemeister received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a law degree from Georgetown University.
Farm Production and Conservation
Johansson has been USDA’s Chief Economist since July 2015. Since 2001, he has worked as an economist at USDA, in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, and at the Congressional Budget Office. In 2011 he was appointed senior economist for energy, environment, and agriculture on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers where he also participated in the White House Rural Council and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Johansson served as Deputy Chief Economist at the USDA from 2012 to 2014. He received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995. After returning to his home state of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota and received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.
The Farm Production and Conservation mission area will focus on domestic agricultural issues. The Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be located under this under secretary.
Natural Resources and Environment
Jiron has more than 29 years of public service and natural resources management, He was appointed Associate Chief of the Forest Service in July 2016. Prior to this appointment, Jiron served in many leadership positions, including Regional Forester of the Rocky Mountain Region; Deputy Regional Forester in the Pacific Southwest Region; Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest; District Ranger on the Salt Lake Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; District Ranger on the South Park Ranger District of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Comanche, and Cimarron National Grasslands; Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs of the Intermountain Region, National Press Officer in Washington, D.C.; and aide to United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. Jiron earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and a Master’s degree from Regis University of Denver.
As previously announced, Perdue has named Anne Hazlett to lead the Rural Development agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Hazlett, whose title will be Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, will oversee the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service. She most recently served as Chief Counsel to the Majority on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.