Clifford taking new assignment within APHIS

By Spencer Chase

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2016 - John Clifford, who has served as the Department of Agriculture's chief veterinarian for the last 12 years, will be taking a new job at the end of March, according to an announcement sent to stakeholders Thursday afternoon.

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Clifford, the chief veterinarian with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will begin to transition from his current role as deputy administrator for veterinary services to a new job as the chief trade advisor for veterinary services with APHIS' National Import Export Services staff at the beginning of March. In his new role, Clifford, a 30-year veteran of APHIS, will focus on global trade issues as they relate to veterinary practices in the U.S.

In the stakeholder announcement, APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea said he was “thankful (APHIS) will continue to benefit from Dr. Clifford's expertise in an arena where we have much at stake.” He said the new position will allow Clifford “to focus more on global trade issues at a time when international work has become ever more crucial to our mission.”

Shea also said that he will announce Clifford's successor “closer to his (March 1) transition date.”

Clifford spent time dealing with international animal health experts after a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2015 that led to the depopulation of 48 million birds. The outbreak led many foreign markets to wonder if they should ban U.S. poultry, but Shea said Clifford was able to have discussions with international trade leaders that “helped maintain poultry trade with several Asian countries.”

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In addition to Clifford's new role, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden also announced on Thursday that she will be leaving USDA at the end of February. Harden has been with USDA since 2009 and has served as the deputy secretary since August of 2013. She also spent time in Washington as the CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts, as Senior Vice President of Gordley Associates, and as a Capitol Hill staffer.

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