President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Kathleen Merrigan as deputy secretary of USDA.

"We at the U.S. Department of Agriculture welcome the President's intention to nominate Dr. Merrigan," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "She will bring to USDA extensive expertise in agricultural marketing and nutrition and in legislative affairs and will provide excellent, experienced leadership as we move President Obama's agricultural and nutritional agenda forward."

Merrigan currently is an assistant professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S. and Ph.D. Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston.

In 1999, she was appointed administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service by then-President Clinton. Prior to that, Merrigan was a senior analyst at the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture and an expert consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.

Merrigan is credited with helping to develop current regulations for organic food, and advocates of sustainable agriculture and food policy view her nomination as a promising sign of the Obama administration’s commitment to sustainability.