Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development: Who Is Anne Hazlett?

Sunday, March 18, 2018
Anne Hazlett

Anne Catherine Hazlett, who has spent most of her career focusing on agricultural issues, both in Washington and her home state of Indiana, was appointed assistant to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for rural development on June 12, 2017. The Office of Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contains the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service and, before the advent of the Donald Trump administration, was led by an under secretary.


The daughter of Margaret and Samuel Hazlett, Anne Hazeltt was born in 1973. She is from Indianapolis and developed a love of agriculture while exhibiting livestock while a member of 4-H. She earned a B.S. in agricultural communications and journalism from Kansas State University in 1995; a J.D. from Indiana University’s law school in 1999 and a master’s degree in agricultural law in 2001 from the University of Arkansas. She also served as a legal intern for the Indiana Farm Bureau.


After completing her education, Hazlett went to work as an associate counsel for the chairman of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, Larry Combest (R-Texas). In 2004, she returned to Indiana to serve as chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman (R). Hazlett was back on Capitol Hill in April 2007, this time as minority counsel for Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.


In December 2008, with the support of Skillman, Hazlett was named by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) as the state’s director of agriculture. She returned to Washington in October 2009 as chief Republican counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee. When Republicans regained control of the Senate in January 2015, Hazlett was promoted to the Committee’s chief counsel. She remained in this position until joining USDA.


Hazlett’s appointment was controversial because it was seen as a downgrade of the Rural Development post under Perdue and was made before the end of the public comment period on the move. “I think it’s baffling,” Greg Fogel, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, told Politico at the time. “I don’t understand what the purpose of the public comment period is if [the USDA] moves forward before they have a chance to receive all of that feedback.”  Nearly 600 organizations opposed the reorganization. Perdue claimed that Hazlett would have more access to him than she otherwise would under the previous setup.

Since taking the job, Hazlett has focused on opioid abuse and rural broadband, among other issues.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Anne Hazlett (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Perdue Names Rural Development Assistant Despite Objections (Fence Post)

Opposition Mounts Against New Rural Post (by Catherine Boudreau, Politico)

Official Announcement


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