Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of Produce Marketing Association, issued the following statement in response to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan’s departure:
“PMA applauds the work of U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan and her support of the fresh produce industry. Deputy Secretary Merrigan has been a strong advocate for healthy eating and the affordability of fruits and vegetables, using both PMA’s and the USDA’s research to bust the myth that eating healthfully is expensive. In addition, she was a leading voice during USDA’s launch of the ‘MyPlate’ communications campaign, which recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables and offers the clearest, most actionable consumer advice in decades.
“Throughout her service with USDA, she remained a good friend to fresh produce and a familiar face to the PMA community. We were honored to have Deputy Secretary Merrigan carry the ‘MyPlate’ message to a global audience in her address at PMA’s 2011 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Atlanta, Ga. As an agricultural leader and a role model to women in produce, her remarks inspired a class of rising produce professionals at the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2012, where she encouraged young people’s pursuit of agricultural careers and championed the need for women in the industry.
“While Deputy Secretary Merrigan leaves a mark as an advocate for the National Organics Program that’s to be admired, she never wavered from her commitment to represent the voice of the entire agricultural industry. This true mark of leadership can be exemplified in her numerous meetings with PMA’s Government Affairs Committee and the open door she offered PMA and our members.
“PMA wishes Deputy Secretary Merrigan the successful continuation of her professional pursuits. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work alongside her, and PMA members’ businesses have benefited as a result. PMA looks forward to continued collaboration with the incoming Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and new opportunities to keep the fresh produce industry moving forward.”