After over four years of being deputy secretary at the United States Department of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan is stepping down. She’ll be leaving her job at the end of April. Her appointment in 2009 excited sustainable and organic farmers because of her long history of supporting sustainable agriculture.

Before taking on the job, Merrigan helped develop and write the laws surrounding the labeling of U.S. organic food and served on various U.S. and U.N. agriculture committees.

Since joining the USDA, Merrigan has worked to make sure sustainable agriculture has been an important part of the department’s agenda.

Here are just a few of the initiatives she had her hand in.

Those are just a few of the things we reported on here at MNN. Obama Foodorama, the blog dedicated to anything food-related under the Obama administration, has some more details about Merrigan’s accomplishments as well as information about her future plans. (She hasn’t announced them yet.)

I can’t imagine that it’s easy being a sustainable food advocate at the USDA. Our food and political systems are so intertwined, damaged and seemingly under the control of corporations that Merrigan probably didn’t get to accomplish everything she had hoped to. But as deputy secretary, she helped greatly by pushing for policies that supported sustainable agriculture and by speaking out and leading the conversation about the necessity to support our organic food systems.

The Obama administration needs to makes sure to find someone as committed to sustainable, organic and local agriculture to replace Merrigan. Don't you agree?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Kathleen Merrigan leaving the USDA
Agriculture Department's deputy secretary has been a champion of local and organic foods, farm-to-school programs and more.