President Joe Biden will nominate Janie Simms Hipp, an agricultural law veteran and member of the Chickasaw Nation, to become the Agriculture Department’s general counsel, USDA’s chief legal officer.

Hipp, who served on Biden’s transition team for USDA, held several posts at USDA during the Obama administration, including as director of the Office of Tribal Relations and as a national program leader at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture for areas including farm financial management, risk management education and beginning farmer and rancher development.

She is currently the CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund and was founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas, which she got her law degree.

The general counsel provides legal services and oversight across all of the department's programs. 

“If confirmed, Janie will join a senior leadership team committed to ensuring the fair and equitable implementation of all USDA programs in service to the American people,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

“Her skills and knowledge will contribute to removing barriers to access wherever they exist, building a fairer and more just food system, and helping to build a stronger, more resilient rural America,” he added.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Hipp "has a strong track record as a legal expert with decades of experience working with beginning farmers and strengthening rural and tribal communities."

Marshall Matz, chairman of the Washington law firm Olsson Frank Weed Terman Matz, which Hipp joined as “of counsel” in 2013, said Hipp was a "brilliant legal mind with a passion for rural America."

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