Special to the Journa;
WASHINGTON, August 16, 2013- On Monday, Krysta Harden, formerly of Camilla, Ga., was sworn-in as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
“Krysta truly understands how critical rural communities are to the future of our nation,” said Secretary Vilsack. “In her previous roles at USDA, Krysta has led the way to historic results for rural America and I know that she will bring her unique perspective and connection to rural America to everything that she does in her position as Deputy Secretary. I look forward to working closely with her as we take the next steps in our service to America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”
“Coming from a southwest Georgia farm and a close-knit rural community, I know that rural America is the backbone of our country and the heart of our values,” said Harden. “We have an important opportunity today to expand opportunities across rural America – supporting a diverse and abundant agriculture sector, expanding markets at home and abroad, further strengthening conservation and creating a thriving biobased economy. I look forward to helping President Obama and Secretary Vilsack build on the accomplishments of this Administration and revitalize the rural economy for generations to come.”
Under Harden’s leadership, the Office of the Deputy Secretary will work to enhance opportunity for America’s rural communities. Harden plans to work closely with Secretary Vilsack to seek out and create new partnerships that leverage the unique strengths of rural areas, and carry out targeted investments to create thriving businesses in small towns.
“We have a responsibility to be sure that anyone who wants to have a stake in the future of rural America can do so,” Harden said. “In the coming generation, we’ll need even more new farmers and new Main Street businesses. Today, we have folks stepping up to lead – young people, returning veterans, immigrants and more women than ever before. I’m committed to supporting their efforts.”
Harden joined the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations in 2009, and in 2011 was asked by Secretary Vilsack to serve as Chief of Staff at the Department. Harden has also held posts with the National Association of Conservation Districts and the American Soybean Association. Prior to this, Harden served as the Staff Director for the House Committee on Agriculture subcommittee on Peanuts and Tobacco and Legislative Director, Chief of Staff, and Press Secretary for Rep. Charles Hatcher, D-Ga., to whom she is now married.
During her time at the Department of Agriculture Harden has been instrumental in implementing the 2008 Farm Bill, which allowed the Department to deliver record farm loans, conservation efforts and agricultural trade and increased investment in small towns. She also worked to pass and implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which resulted in healthier school meals for more than 32 million children each day. And during the height of the recession – she worked to ensure the availability of dependable nutrition assistance to hardworking American families struggling to get back on their feet.
Harden also worked with Secretary Vilsack to identify proactive savings across USDA’s Agencies and implement a new era of civil rights at USDA. She is committed to continuing this work across the country to ensure that all Americans have equitable access to USDA programs. Through efforts such as USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, Harden plans to help ensure the technical assistance and partnership needed to help communities in rural America that suffer from persistent poverty.
Harden grew up on a farm in Mitchell County, Ga. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia.