Bonnie nominated to key USDA post

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has nominated Robert Bonnie to serve as under secretary for farm production and conservation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He currently serves as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor for climate at USDA.

“He is one of the nation’s foremost authorities and leaders on working lands approaches to conservation and incentive-based climate and conservation practices for farmers, ranchers, foresters and landowners,” Vilsack said. “Under Robert’s steady hand, America’s farmers, ranchers, producers and landowners will see renewed focus on building and maintaining markets at home and abroad and preparing our food and agricultural community to lead the world in climate-smart agricultural practices. Robert will be committed to working with U.S. farmers and landowners to help feed Americans and the world and make climate smart practices work for them in a market-oriented way—a way that creates new streams of income, a cleaner energy future and a bio-based manufacturing revolution.”

The president of the American Soybean Association noted the Farm Production and Conservation is significant to agriculture and includes the Farm Service Agency, which manages commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve Program; the Risk Management Agency, which administers crop insurance; and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which manages conservation programs other than CRP.

Kevin Scott, soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota, said, “Bonnie has a solid background, having overseen NRCS under the Obama administration and most recently serving as Secretary Vilsack’s chief climate adviser. We have appreciated his public service in support of agriculture, and we respect Bonnie’s accessibility and responsiveness to us as farmers. Just recently, he joined ASA virtually for a conversation during our March board meetings, and we’ve consistently seen this willingness on his part to connect with farmers. We look forward to working with him in this new role after his confirmation.”

National Corn Growers Association President John Linder also applauded the nomination.

“This is an important mission area to America’s corn farmers,” Linder said. “And we look forward to working with him on COVID recovery, disaster relief, risk management tools and conservation programs.”

Before joining USDA, Bonnie was at Duke University, first as a Rubenstein Fellow and later as an Executive in Residence at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions working on conservation and environmental issues in rural America. In 2020, he also worked with the Bipartisan Policy Center on its Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative. Bonnie has master’s degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].