The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Krysta Harden new Vilsack chief of staff

Krysta Harden, the assistant secretary of Agriculture for congressional relations, will become Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's chief of staff on Monday when Karen Ross, the current chief of staff, leaves to become California's food and agriculture secretary.

Before becoming assistant secretary for congressional relations, a Senate-confirmed post, Harden was chief executive officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts. Harden was also a lobbyist for Gordley and Associates, where her clients included the American Soybean Association. A Georgia native, Harden also worked for the House Agriculture Committee and was chief of staff to former Rep. Charles Hatcher, D-Ga.

Harden will take the chief of staff job on a permanent basis, a USDA spokesman said today. John Berge, the deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations, will run the agency’s congressional affairs section until an acting assistant secretary is chosen, the spokesman added.

Berge, who headed the Obama presidential campaign in his native state of Nebraska, and was White House liaison to USDA before he was named deputy assistant secretary in November 2009. Berge has worked on the staff of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and former Nebraska Democratic Sens. Jim Exon and Bob Kerrey.