President-elect Joe Biden is working to address important positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A series of agency review teams have been made available online. Former USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie is leading the Biden transition team in its review of USDA. The USDA team will also review the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. A majority of the 17-member USDA review team previously worked for the department under the Obama administration. Many of the team members have more of a background related to nutrition programs rather than production agriculture experience.
Bonnie currently serves as the Farm and Forest Initiative Director at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project. Previously, Bonnie was a senior advisor to Tom Vilsack during his tenure as U.S. Agriculture Secretary. Bonnie has also served as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. The agency review team also includes Debra Eschmeyer, Global Business Development Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. Eschmeyer previously served as Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition as well as Executive Director of the Let’s Move! initiative established by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Biden transition team also selected Patrice Lumumba Simms, Vice President of Litigation for Healthy Communities at Earthjustice, to lead the EPA review team. During the Obama administration, Simms held the role of Deputy Assistance Attorney General in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The EPA team is comprised of 12 members and is also tasked with reviewing the Chemical Safety Board. Staff attorney for the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, Alejandra Nunez staff is also a part of the review team. Two members of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School, Cynthia Giles, and Joseph Goffman are also serving as part of the EPA team. Ken Kopocis is also on the review team. During the Obama administration, Kopocis served as EPA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water. Kopocis helped develop and implement the Waters of the United States rule.