Last week Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the following statement on her departure from the USDA:

"Today I am announcing that I will be leaving USDA. I am grateful to President Obama for the opportunity to serve as Deputy Secretary and be part of his leadership team. I also want to thank the US Senate for its unanimous confirmation and the many members of Congress, particularly Chairman Leahy, with whom I have worked closely to ensure support for USDA programs.

It has been an ambitious first term. From implementing the 2008 farm bill, improving school meals, expanding opportunities for American farmers, spending countless hours in the White House situation room, to shepherding USDA budgets through challenging times, it has been an honor to play a small part in history.

I hope that during my tenure, I was able to help open USDA's doors a little wider, inviting new and discouraged constituencies to participate in USDA programs.

With Secretary Vilsack at the helm, aided by very talented and dedicated USDA employees, I am able to leave fully confident that, USDA will thrive and continue to improve its service to the American people."