WASHINGTON — Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh announced on Jan. 26 that she would be stepping away from her position with the US Department of Agriculture to spend more time with her family.

"Serving in the Biden-Harris Administration and having the opportunity to make history alongside Secretary Vilsack has truly been the greatest honor of my professional career,” Bronaugh said in the announcement. “I continue to be in awe of all we have accomplished during these first two years. We are making historic investments in advancing equity and opportunity at USDA and have significantly bolstered food assistance programs to support those most in need.”

Speaking to Bronaugh’s resignation, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Her service, presence and leadership will be sorely missed. She has been an incredible partner over the last two years, and she has been instrumental in helping the department seize opportunity and address a host of challenges. We are all deeply grateful for her service.”

Bronaugh was elected as deputy secretary of agriculture, the second-highest ranking executive at USDA, in January 2021. Through the election, Bronaugh became the first African American woman to serve in the role.

During her service, Bronaugh acted as co-chair of USDA’s first-ever Equity Commission, an independent body providing recommendations for how USDA and Congress can resolve to remove systemic inequities. Bronaugh also helped establish a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office within the Office of the Secretary, which provides governance over diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, while working to form a workforce that is proud to represent USDA.

Bronaugh will officially resign in the coming weeks.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) extended its thanks to Bronaugh for her service.

“Undersecretary Bronaugh was always available to listen to the concerns of the meat and poultry industry,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of NAMI. “I appreciate her establishing open lines of communication from day one. She will be missed at the department, but I look forward to working with her as she begins her next chapter.”