Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has named a Hoosier to head the newly reorganized, Rural Development Department at USDA. Anne Hazlett has served as the Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Chief of Staff for Lt Governor Becky Skillman, and most recently as Republican legal counsel for the Senate Ag Committee. Former Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock, who worked closely with Hazlett in those positions, says she is the right person for the job, “She is a well-organized, well thought, and just an extremely intellectual talent that understands agriculture and rural America.” Katrina Hall, with Indiana Farm Bureau, told HAT, “Hazlett understands rural development, both from on the ground and an agency perspective. We are happy whenever someone is appointed who has an understanding of the dynamics they are dealing with.” She added that Hazlett was once a legal intern at IFB and recently presented a program to IFB members on federal nutrition legislation.
Current Director of ISDA Ted McKinney said Hazlett is capable of handling the challenges of running a newly reorganized program at USDA, “There is no better and more humble public servant; and she, by herself, will outwork any 2 or 3 others of us.” McKinney told HAT that Hazlett’s passion for rural America will make her a powerful force within USDA and beyond, “I know of her personal passion for addressing the opioid epidemic that is facing rural communities in all states. Rural development is about infrastructure, but it is also about addressing issues like this.”
Secretary Perdue has stated that Hazlett will have a direct line to his office. “Rural America will have a seat at the main table and have walk-in privileges with the secretary on day one,” Perdue said. “With her background of advising the Senate committee overseeing agricultural and rural development issues, Anne Hazlett comes with a depth of knowledge and experience perfectly suited to her role in helping to restore prosperity to rural America. We are excited to have her aboard.”
Hazlett said in a statement, “Small towns and the people who call them home have been my life’s passion, It is with great enthusiasm and a deep commitment to rural America that I am eager to get to work at USDA and be a partner in crafting solutions to the significant challenges these communities face from economic opportunity to infrastructure, quality housing, and addiction.” Hazlett will be familiar with many of the programs since her work on Capitol Hill over the last two Farm Bills means she actually wrote some of the legislation that she will now be administering. 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.