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Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to Speak at Williams

11:58AM / Friday, August 24, 2012
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Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will present her talk, "Growing Communities Through Local Foods," at Williams College on Friday, Sept. 7.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will speak at Williams College on Friday, Sept. 7. Merrigan's talk "Growing Communities Through Local Foods" coincides with her being named a college Bicentennial Medalist.

The event, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Log on Spring Street, is free and open to the public. Attendees must bring their own lunch. Merrigan will speak at 12:20 p.m. and will take questions at 12:50 p.m.

Deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the author of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, Merrigan is regarded as the moving force behind the development of federal organic standards. She is an outspoken advocate of moving federal farm policies toward conservation and sustainable land use. After receiving a Fulbright fellowship to study pesticide use in Poland, Merrigan joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in 1987.

She then earned her Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institure of Technology, where she also worked as a senior analyst for the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture. From there she was appointed to the National Organics Standards Board. In 1999, Bill Clinton appointed Merrigan to head the USDA's Marketing Service. At the end of Clinton's presidency, Merrigan moved to Tufts University, where she directed the Center on Agriculture, Food, and Environment. In 2009, President Obama tapped her to become the deputy secretary of agriculture.

Merrigan graduated from Williams in 1982 with a double major in political science and English. She will receive a Bicentennial Medal on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the college's Convocation ceremony.
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