On June 12, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue named Anne Hazlett Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. The appointment is part of a comprehensive reorganization of USDA’s subcabinet, which eliminates the position of Under Secretary for Rural Development – a position requiring Senate confirmation – and creates a new Under Secretary for Trade.
In her new role, Hazlett will oversee the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the Rural Business Service (RBS), and the Rural Housing Service (RHS) within USDA – altogether a $216 billion portfolio with over 5,000 employees – and report directly to Secretary Perdue. Anne Hazlett’s full biography can be found below.
Monday’s announcement implements one of a series of realignments at USDA announced by Secretary Perdue in May. According to the agency’s press release, the administration views this shift as “an elevation of Rural Development” and emphasized that “the systems, functions, and internal structure of the Rural Development agencies will not be changing.”
Along with many other rural stakeholder organizations, NACo has expressed major concerns over the realignment and continues to work with Congress and the administration to ensure rural programs and priorities are preserved throughout the reorganization process. To help highlight the important role USDA Rural Development Programs play in helping counties make critical investments in rural communities, NACo has added an interactive map of USDA Rural Development Funding on NACo’s County Explorer. This map shows the total USDA Rural Development dollars leveraged through grants, loans, and loan guarantees in each county between 2009 and 2016.
An Indiana native, Hazlett has worked on agriculture and rural issues for over fifteen years. Working in both the U.S. House and Senate, Hazlett has most recently served as Republican Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry where she was an advisor on many issues impacting rural America from Farm Bill programs to broadband and child nutrition. In addition to her public service in Washington, Hazlett was the Director of Agriculture for her home state where she managed the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and was an advisor to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels on agriculture and rural issues. Further, she served as Chief of Staff to Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman where she assisted in the creation of the state’s first Office of Community and Rural Affairs, an agency devoted to providing financial and technical assistance to rural communities, and supervised management of the state’s housing finance, energy, and tourism agencies. Outside of public service, Hazlett was in private law practice where she advised clients on agriculture and environmental regulatory matters.
Hazlett is a graduate of Kansas State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural communications. In addition, she holds a law degree from Indiana University and a masters degree in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas.