WASHINGTON – US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made some administrative changes following the 35-day partial government shutdown.

On Jan. 28, Perdue named three candidates to leadership positions within the agency after the Senate failed to confirm them during the 115th Congress.

Perdue named Dr. Mindy Brashears as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Dr. Scott Hutchins as Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. All of these positions do not require Senate confirmation. The three people will start at the USDA on Jan. 29.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

Dr. Brashears had previously been nominated for the same position by President Trump in May 2018 but did not make it through the Senate Agriculture Committee or a confirmation vote.

“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,” Perdue said. “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 three senior officials have been re-nominated for more senior roles than previously nominated by Perdue.

“While in their deputy roles as selected by Perdue, they will not be serving in ‘acting’ capacities for the positions for which they have been nominated,” the USDA statement said. “As a result, they will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions.” 

Secretary Perdue, whose agency furloughed tens of thousands of workers during the shutdown, also released the following statement on Jan. 25.

“President Trump’s announcement of the reopening of the federal government is welcome news, as it will bring thousands of our employees back to work and return us to our mission of providing our customers with the services they rely upon,” Perdue said. “I extend my sincere thanks to the thousands of USDA workers who stayed on the job during the shutdown to offer as many of our normal activities as we could. The President has already signed legislation that guarantees backpay for all employees, and we will move forward on that as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we will prepare for a smooth reestablishment of USDA functions.”