USDA adds to marketing, regulatory, farm program staff

By Jim Webster

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 - USDA announced several non-career staffing changes today, adding

Elanor Starmer as a special assistant to the under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs and naming Juan M. Garcia deputy administrator for farm programs at the Farm Service Agency.

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Starmer previously was western region director for Food and Water Watch, a non-profit advocacy group that has been a high-profile opponent of biotechnology in agriculture, food irradiation and “factory farms.” Its Web site advocates “breaking up the agribusiness monopolies” and adoption of the proposed Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration livestock and poultry rule. She also was a consultant for family farm organizations and the Organization of American States.

Garcia has been acting deputy administrator for farm programs since May. During a 34-year career with USDA he's been Texas state executive director, agricultural program manager in the Texas state office, district director for the agency and county executive director for three counties.

Kisha Davis, a White House fellow, will complete her fellowship as a senior advisor working across nutrition, food safety and marketing agencies. Davis is on leave from a primary care practice at a “culturally and socioeconomically diverse community health center in Maryland,” USDA said.

Other changes: Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Darci Vetter will take maternity leave next month. Max Holtzman, now senior advisor to the secretary, will be acting deputy under secretary in her absence. Holtzman, a south Florida attorney, has been coordinating trade, biotechnology and aquaculture issues.

James Gore, currently acting director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat, has been detailed to the office of the chief of the National Resources Conservation Service and Julie Grogan-Brown, confidential assistant to the chief in NRCS, has been detailed to work on the People's Garden Initiative.


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