Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: January 18, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky,

Governor Northam Commends Nomination of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh as USDA Deputy Secretary

VDACS Commissioner recognized for leadership, innovation, and partnership

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today commended President-elect Joe Biden for appointing Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh to serve as Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dr. Bronaugh has served as Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) since May 2018. Pending confirmation by the United States Senate, Commissioner Bronaugh will become the first African American Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

“As Commissioner of VDACS, Dr. Bronaugh has been a true leader—promoting the agency’s core mission while taking on new challenges, including our COVID-19 pandemic response and farmer mental health, focusing economic development to improve food access in underserved communities, and engaging youth in the field of agriculture,” said Governor Northam. “I am proud that she will be representing both the Commonwealth and all Americans in such a critical role at USDA and in this new Administration.”

USDA consists of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The Department promotes agriculture production that helps feed Americans and others throughout the word, supports rural economic development, and conserves the nation’s natural resources through conservation, forest restoration, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.

“Dr. Jewel Bronaugh has done an outstanding job for the Commonwealth of Virginia, advancing agriculture, the state’s number one industry,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “There is no question she will serve our great nation with distinction. It is a tremendous source of pride to have our VDACS Commissioner selected to serve as Deputy Secretary of USDA, and we know Jewel will be a true leader both at the Department and in the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Governor Northam appointed Dr. Jewel Bronaugh to serve as the 16th Commissioner of VDACS in 2018.  She was previously Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement, and Outreach at Virginia State University (VSU). She also served as State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency and as Dean of VSU’s College of Agriculture. Dr. Bronaugh holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from James Madison University. She earned a master’s degree in Education and doctorate in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech. 

During her tenure as Commissioner, Dr. Bronaugh created the Farmer Stress and Mental Health Taskforce to address critical mental health issues facing farmers and families in rural communities. She also helped create the Virginia Food Access and Investment Fund Grant Program to invest in new and expanding grocery stores and food retailers and support innovative food retail projects that address food access issues in historically marginalized communities.  Additionally, she established the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture Career Development Scholarship Program to provide opportunities for minority students to study and participate in national agricultural policy development.

Dr. Bronaugh will join the list of historic and notable Biden-Harris appointees that reflect the nation’s diversity and will work to unify the United States.

The Commonwealth has been fortunate to benefit from Dr. Bronaugh’s outstanding leadership at VDACS these past three years and in other important roles throughout her entire career in Virginia. The work she has done to promote agriculture, ensure food security, address farmer mental health, and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion is of great importance to all Virginians, and Dr. Bronaugh will carry on this work in her new leadership role in Washington, D.C.

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