USDA Gets Creative in Staffing Food Safety Position

USDA Gets Creative in Staffing Food Safety Position


Dr. Mindy Brashears is sworn in recently by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue as Deputy Under Secretary of Food Safety. She will be working with that title while awaiting Senate confirmation for the intended post, Under Secretary for Food Safety. Photo courtesy of USDA

After Senate approval deadlines passed without confirmations for three key USDA positions in 2018, Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration are trying a new tactic. USDA is hiring the three for positions just below the level requiring Senate approval while re-submitting them for the higher level positions.

One of the three, Dr. Mindy Brashears, is up for Under Secretary for Food Safety. She now holds the role of Deputy Under Secretary of Food Safety. Since the Under Secretary role is currently unfilled, she will be acting in that position without the formal title.


The other two nominees are Naomi Earp, who is now Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Dr. Scott Hutchins is Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. If the Senate approves their nomination, they will be able to drop the “Deputy” part of their titles.

“We’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” Perdue said. “I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people.”

There are 705 government positions requiring Senate approval, according to the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post. Only 431 positions have been filled following approval. Another 126 positions have formal nominees, including the three USDA positions.

Who Is Dr. Mindy Brashears?

Dr. Brashears will be leaving her role as a Professor of Food Safety and Public Health and the Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Her research evaluates interventions in pre- and postharvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. She is past-Chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multistate research group.