U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Other Key Staff Appointments

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16 November 2021, Washington: The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold senior positions in Washington, D.C.

Shefali Mehta, PhD was named Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

Dr. Mehta, an environmental and agricultural economist and statistician, comes to USDA from Open Rivers Consulting Associates, a science & technology and management consulting firm she founded and led. In her role and Founder and Principal, she helped clients intertwine innovation, data and science, compassion, diversity of perspectives and the importance of the environment for overall health into their skills and values.

Dr. Mehta has worked in roles across private, public and non-profit sectors including McKinsey, Syngenta, the Soil Health Partnership, amongst others. She has served as a Board member for various groups including Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pest Center (MITPPC), the School of Statistics at University of Minnesota, and The Gates Scholar Advisory Council, amongst others.

Dr. Mehta received her PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics and MS in Statistics from the University of Minnesota, MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University and a BA in Economics from New York University.

Marcia Bunger was named Administrator for the Risk Management Agency

Bunger joins USDA after serving as a County Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for 18 years. In total, she has over 25 years of experience working for USDA in the Farm Service Agency. In her role as County Executive Director, Bunger worked closely with Pine Ridge Tribal Government leaders and personnel to administer FSA programs on the second largest land based Indian Reservation in the U.S. She served 15 years on the South Dakota Advisory Council to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and previously held positions at Farm Credit Services of America, including Crop Insurance Specialist and Crop Insurance Officer. Recently, she founded an agriculture consulting limited liability company providing assistance to area farmers & ranchers and to work with a local crop insurance agency selling and servicing crop insurance policies. Bunger is also the owner and operator of a 2000-acre, family-owned farm. Bunger graduated cum laude and received her bachelor’s degree from Augustana College. She will be the first person who is a member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and the first woman to serve as Administrator for RMA.

Colin Finan was named Senior Advisor for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Most recently, Finan served as vice president at McCabe Message Partners, a Washington based public relations firm focused on healthcare communications. At McCabe, Finan was responsible for overseeing editorial content and consumer-facing communications for more than 50 foundations and non-profit clients. Prior to McCabe, Finan worked as a manager and senior associate on the Safe Food Project at Pew Charitable Trusts. Colin was responsible for managing all federal and state outreach regarding passage and implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Finan received his bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin.

“Under the leadership of Shefali, Marcia and Colin, USDA’s commitment to advancing science, research and education and serving the Nation’s farmers and ranchers will only be furthered,“ said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Their skills and experience are a welcomed addition to our talented staff.”

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