U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden is resigning her position, effective the end of February. She announced her resignation on January 21.

"I am proud of what our department has accomplished since 2009 to bring economic opportunity that will help rural America thrive for generations to come,” said Harden. “And although I will not be part of the many great and transformational things USDA will accomplish over the next year, I am more committed than ever to USDA's mission. We have worked hard over the past seven years to make USDA truly the people's department, as demonstrated by this administration's commitment to bring young people, women, veterans and equal access to the forefront of food and agriculture policy.

Harden began her work with the USDA in the Office of Congressional Relations, where the team helped shepherd the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and secured funding from Congress to help resolve outstanding claims of discrimination by African American farmers.  She later served as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s chief of staff before becoming deputy secretary.

In her current role, she helped lead the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill.

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"Krysta Harden shares a special bond with rural America and agriculture that is deeply rooted in her family history and personal values, embodying the mission of USDA in a genuine way,” said Vilsack. “I greatly appreciate her many years of service to the Obama Administration and to USDA. But more than anything, I am grateful for her friendship, sound judgement and leadership as a key member of my team since 2009.”

Michael Scuse named acting deputy secretary

Michael Scuse, the current undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS), will serve as the acting deputy secretary of agriculture, Vilsack announced. Secretary Vilsack also directed Alexis Taylor, the current deputy undersecretary for FFAS, to assume the duties of undersecretary for FFAS.