The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

O'Brien named deputy undersecretary for rural development

KANSAS CITY — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here today that Doug O’Brien will be appointed deputy undersecretary for rural development, effective Monday.

O’Brien has been serving as Vilsack’s senior adviser on rural development, but started in the Obama administration as chief of staff to Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

He will be one of two deputy undersecretaries for rural development working under Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. The other is Cheryl Cook.

Vilsack announced the appointment at a Council on Foundations conference on rural philanthropy, and said one of O’Brien’s duties will be liaison with philanthropic groups active in rural America.

Before joining USDA, O’Brien, who was raised on a diversified farm in Iowa, served as the assistant director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and as senior advisor to Iowa Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, interim co-director for the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville, Ark., senior staff attorney at the Drake Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines, and clerk for Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court.

He has also served as counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee and legislative assistant for Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa.