Biden nominates Hipp as USDA general counsel |

Biden nominates Hipp as USDA general counsel

President Biden this week nominated Janie Simms Hipp as general counsel at the Agriculture Department.

Hipp mostly recently has been known as the CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund and as the founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas, but she first rose to prominence during the farm crisis of the 1980s.

She served as national program leader for Farm Financial Management, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Risk Management Education, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development programs at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture after serving as the senior advisor for tribal relations to Secretary Tom Vilsack and director of the Office of Tribal Relations.

After her service at USDA, Hipp was also of counsel to the OFW Law Firm in Washington. Marshall Matz, a partner at OFW, said in an email today that Hipp “has a brilliant legal mind and a passion for rural America.”

Hipp holds a law degree from Oklahoma City University and a master’s degree in agriculture and food law from the University of Arkansas.

In making the announcement today, the White House said Hipp “grew up in a small southeast Oklahoma community, beginning her legal career in the 1980s during the tumultuous farm financial crisis as farmers and ranchers faced problems unrivaled since the Great Depression.”

“She served within the Oklahoma attorney general’s office while establishing a national presence advocating on behalf of farmers and ranchers.

“Hipp received an LLM in agriculture law from the University of Arkansas, joining what was to become a new specialization focusing on the legal complexities of agriculture. She taught agricultural law and food policy for decades while crisscrossing the country working with farmers, ranchers and food businesses.

“In addition to authoring numerous domestic publications on agriculture and nutrition law, her work also includes international engagement on matters related to food policy. Her domestic and international law and policy career spans over 35 years. She has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni at two universities and has been recognized twice by the American Agriculture Law Association.

“She is a member of the Chickasaw Nation located in Oklahoma and resides in Arkansas with her husband.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release today, “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 adviser 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.”

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