Doug O'Brien, J.D., LL.M., was appointed Acting Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development on May 6, 2013. Prior to his appointment, O'Brien served as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, a Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack and Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
Before joining the United States Department of Agriculture, O'Brien served as the Assistant Director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. In this capacity, he assisted the Director in administering the day-to-day operations of that department in such areas as plant industries, animal health, and its laboratories. In addition, he was responsible for developing the department's biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy policy.
O'Brien has also served as Senior Advisor to Iowa Governor Chet Culver, Interim Co-Director for the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville, Ark., and Senior Staff Attorney at the Drake Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
He is former counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, where he worked on the 2002 Farm Bill.
He also served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Leonard Boswell, focusing primarily on Rep. Boswell's work on the House Agriculture Committee, and as a Clerk for Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court. O'Brien graduated from Loras College and earned a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Iowa. In addition, he holds a Master's Degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas.
O'Brien, who was raised on a diversified farm in Iowa, has dedicated his career to agriculture and rural policy.(May 2013)