President Joe Biden has nominated Janie Simms Hipp to serve at USDA’s new General Counsel. Previously under President Trump’s administration this position was occupied by Stephen Vaden, who was from Union City, Tenn. The nomination of Simms Hipp will require confirmation of which a timeline is not certain.

She will serve under recently confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Vilsack served in the same capacity under President Obama’s administration. The following is Secretary Vilsack’s statement on Simms Hipp’s nomination.

“I am grateful to President Biden for nominating Janie Simms Hipp, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, to serve as General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I have the utmost confidence and respect for Janie. I know that she will faithfully carry out her duties to enforce the laws and regulations of the USDA, safeguard producers, protect socially disadvantaged communities, make good on USDA’s responsibility to provide nutrition assistance to children and families, and ensure the interests of the American public are served by USDA’s programs and services. She has a decades-long career dedicated to protecting and ensuring the legal rights of underserved and underprivileged communities. Before serving as CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund, Janie was the founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. I appointed her as my senior advisor for tribal affairs and then as director of the Office of Tribal Relations in the Obama Administration, among other senior positions. For more than 35 years prior to her federal service, Janie built an outstanding career as an agriculture and food lawyer and policy expert. Her work has focused on the complex intersection of Indian law and agriculture and food law.

“If confirmed, Janie will join a senior leadership team committed to ensuring the fair and equitable implementation of all USDA programs in service to the American people. Her skills and knowledge will contribute to removing barriers to access wherever they exist, building a fairer and more just food system, and helping to build a stronger, more resilient rural America.”