Robert Bonnie, who has made extensive recommendations for using the Agriculture Department to address climate change and led the Biden transition team for USDA, will advise the department on climate policy. 

Katharine Ferguson, a former Senate Agriculture Committee aide who held senior posts in the Obama administration, was named chief of staff in the department, according to a USDA statement released Wednesday. 

Kevin Shea, who has been administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013, is serving as acting agriculture secretary while Tom Vilsack waits for Senate confirmation to the position he held during the Obama administration.

Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh, who is Biden's selection to be deputy secretary, also must be confirmed by the Senate. 

Bonnie, who served as USDA's undersecretary for natural resources during the Obama administration, will be deputy chief of staff for policy and senior adviser for climate. He has been a leading advocate for using USDA's Commodity Credit Corp. spending authority to set up a carbon bank to buy and sell agricultural carbon credits. 

He also co-authored recommendations that former Obama administration officials made to President Biden for addressing climate change. 

Other recommendations in that group’s report, called “Climate21,” include creating new financial incentives in the crop insurance program for carbon-saving practices; targeting Rural Development spending more toward green energy; and reconsidering the relocation to Kansas City of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Ferguson has recently been serving as associate director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. During the Obama administration, she was chief of staff for the White House Domestic Policy Council and chief of staff for Rural Development at USDA.

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Greg Parham was named interim deputy assistant secretary for administration. Parham served as assistant secretary for administration from 2013 to 2016. He previously served as administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 

Sara Bleich, a former professor of public health policy at Harvard University who served as a policy adviser to USDA's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services during the Obama administration, has been named a senior adviser for COVID-19 policy at USDA. Her research has focused on food insecurity and racial injustice. 

Kumar Chandran, who was chief of staff to USDA's undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services during the Obama administration, was named senior adviser for nutrition. He has been serving as policy director for FoodCorps.

Justo Robles was named White House Liaison for USDA. Robles worked on the Biden campaign as deputy director of coalitions in Georgia and previously was deputy director and chief of staff for Energy Independence Now, a national nonprofit advocating for clean energy. 

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