March 20, 2013

Industry groups laud departing USDA official

Two major produce industry groups praised USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan after she announced her resignation March 14.

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) noted Merrigan’s support of the fresh produce industry.

“Deputy Secretary Merrigan has been a strong advocate for healthy eating and the affordability of fruits and vegetables, using both PMA’s and the USDA’s research to bust the myth that eating healthfully is expensive. In addition, she was a leading voice during USDA’s launch of the ‘MyPlate’ communications campaign, which recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables and offers the clearest, most actionable consumer advice in decades,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and CEO.

“Throughout her service with USDA, she remained a good friend to fresh produce and a familiar face to the PMA community. We were honored to have Deputy Secretary Merrigan carry the ‘MyPlate’ message to a global audience in her address at PMA’s 2011 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Atlanta, Ga. As an agricultural leader and a role model to women in produce, her remarks inspired a class of rising produce professionals at the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2012, where she encouraged young people’s pursuit of agricultural careers and championed the need for women in the industry.

“While Deputy Secretary Merrigan leaves a mark as an advocate for the National Organics Program that’s to be admired, she never wavered from her commitment to represent the voice of the entire agricultural industry. This true mark of leadership can be exemplified in her numerous meetings with PMA’s Government Affairs Committee and the open door she offered PMA and our members.”

United Fresh congratulated Merrigan for her years of service to the USDA and for her support on produce industry issues, including funding for specialty crop research, promoting healthy eating in schools and homes and advocating food safety initiatives.

“United appreciates Deputy Secretary Merrigan’s support of United’s initiatives and programs over the years. She has helped raise the visibility of salad bars as a strategy to improve child nutrition at ‘Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools’ events while publicizing the USDA’s ‘MyPlate’ nutrition campaign with her message to millions of Americans to make “half your plate fruits and vegetables,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO.

“United is also proud to have partnered with Deputy Secretary Merrigan for the launch of the milestone online tool to help producers achieve Good Agricultural Practices certification and to ensure they are producing fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible.”


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