Vilsack names more key deputies

USDA secretary's new appointees do not require Senate confirmation.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced a series of appointments with implications for the Obama administration's policies on trade promotion and food aid, as well as for President Obama's global food security initiative.

None of the appointees is close to farm, commodity or food-aid groups, and they do not require Senate confirmation.

Vilsack appointed Darci Vetter as deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, replacing Burnham (Bud) Philbrook, who resigned for family reasons. Vetter is a Senate Finance Committee Democratic staffer and previously served as director of agricultural affairs and sustainable development at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where she also worked on trade negotiations.

Vilsack named John Brewer as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. Brewer has been the FAS associate administrator, the No. 2 position in that agency, and the acting administrator since late December, when Vilsack reassigned the previous administrator, Michael Michener, as his special representative in the U.S. embassy to the United Nations food agencies in Rome.

Brewer previously worked for Booz Allen Hamilton on intelligence and finance-related projects and for the American International Group. He also worked on Vilsack's short-lived presidential campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

To replace Brewer as associate administrator, Vilsack named Janet Nuzum, a former International Trade Commission commissioner, House Ways and Means staffer and aide to former Rep. Cal Dooley, D-Calif.

Nuzum was also general counsel for the International Dairy Foods Association. Although she is taking Brewer's position as FAS associate administrator, she will also carry the title of FAS general sales manager.

In addition, Vilsack has appointed Ann Tutwiler as his global food security adviser, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan confirmed Wednesday. Tutwiler will report directly to Vilsack, Merrigan said. Tutwiler was an international affairs aide to Rajiv Shah, the USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics who recently became administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Tutwiler was a Washington-based grants officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and president and chief executive officer of the International Food & Agriculture Trade Policy Council, a foundation and agribusiness-funded group that advocates free-trade policies.