Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s move to name Anne Hazlett as his assistant on rural development is drawing criticisms. Perdue announced Hazlett as his assistant on rural development this week, replacing the former undersecretary role for rural development. Hazlett has been the chief Republican counsel on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Hazlett will oversee the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service within USDA, and report directly to Perdue. However, Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says many rural groups are concerned with the move that eliminated the undersecretary position because it lowers rural developments profile at USDA, according to the Hagstrom Report. In a USDA news release, the department said: “It is important to note that the systems, functions, and internal structure of the Rural Development agencies will not be changing.” Perdue defended the change during testimony to Senators Tuesday, saying Hazlett is working today at USDA, while the nominations for undersecretary positions remain delayed in the vetting process.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.