U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agricultural, Nutrition and Forestry, on Wednesday morning held a hearing to consider the USDA nomination of Dr. Mindy Brashears of Texas to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety.  The position of Under Secretary for Food Safety, to which Dr. Brashears has been nominated, oversees the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

President Trump nominated Dr. Brashears to the federal government’s top food safety job on May 4, 2017.  She is a professor and director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University.  If confirmed by the Senate, she will succeed Dr. Elisabeth Hagan who left the job five years ago in December 2013.

Two other USDA nominees included Naomi C. Earl, of Virginia as the nominee to be an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights and Dr. Scott Hutchins, of Indiana, as the nominee to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.

If confirmed, Dr. Brashears will be tasked with ensuring the safety and the wholesomeness of meat, poultry, catfish and egg products and will lead the federal inspection responsibilities at more than 6,000 meat and poultry processing plants in the U.S. and its territories.

The position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights to which Naomi Earl has been nominated leads the Department of Agriuculture’s civil rights programs, including matters related to program delivery, compliance, and equal employment opportunity.  If confirmed, Earl will be responsible for the leadership coordination and direction of the numerous divisions and offices at USDA that ensure the fair and equitable treatment of both customers and employees.

The position of the Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics to with Dr. Hutchins has been nominated leads the critical agricultural research mission of USDA.  This position serves as the “Chief Scientist” of USDA and is responsible for the coordinator of research, education, and extension activities, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Chairman Roberts said, as the hearing was wrapping up, that he “was pleased the Committee is considering these nominations today and it is my hope that we approve your nominations as quickly as possible so we can send them to the full Senate for consideration.” Senate rules prohibit a committee vote on the same day as the nomination hearing; otherwise most likely the appointment of Dr. Brashears would have already been sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote.