Harden ready for USDA No. 2 job


If you review Krysta Harden’s career, she’s clearly qualified for the deputy secretary position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With a wealth of knowledge on how both Washington and farms work, she has the background and expertise that are needed to be successful as the No. 2 official is the department that oversees farm policy and food programs. Over her 33-year career, she has proven to be capable and has exhibited strong leadership.

She would be an asset to the nation in this job that President Barack Obama nominated her for late last month.

Closer to home, having a Southwest Georgia native — Harden is a native of Mitchell County — in such a critical agricultural policy position would be a benefit to the region. While her scope would be vastly larger than one county or region tucked away in the corner of one state, her familiarity with Southwest Georgia growers’ issues and needs certainly has to be seen as a positive for our region.

Currently, Harden is chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she has held since 2011. She served as the department’s congressional liaison before that. Harden began working for former Rep. Charles Hatcher in 1980 when he was first campaigning for the U.S. House, taking a job as a receptionist. By the time Hatcher lost his seat as Second Congressional District representative to Rep. Sanford Bishop in 1992, Harden was serving as Hatcher’s chief of staff. She is a former staff director of the House Agriculture Peanut and Tobacco Subcommittee and worked six years as chief executive officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts, which represents the 3,000 districts tasked with carrying out natural resource management programs.

She knows how Washington operates.

Back home, her family still owns its farm near Camilla. She’s seen first-hand the challenges that farmers face. She also has first-hand knowledge of how federal ag programs affect farmers and their ability to feed our nation.

She combines a wealth of knowledge with talent and leadership skills that all would benefit the USDA and those who utilize the department’s programs.

Harden’s nomination went before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she received two strong endorsements from congressmen who know a thing or two about agriculture — Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, ranking member and former chairman of the Senate committee, and Rep. Bishop, D-Albany, who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.

As Bishop noted, Harden always has “shown herself to represent the highest standards of public service.”

It’s a brand of public service that would serve the USDA — and Americans — well. We hope the Senate will see that and quickly confirm her nomination.