The National Pork Producers Council applauded the appointment of Cindy Smith as the newly appointed administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns picked Smith to succeed Ron DeHaven, who retired as APHIS administrator Aug. 3; Smith has been acting administrator since then. In April 2007, she was appointed as APHIS' associate administrator.

APHIS’s mission is to protect and promote American agriculture, regulate genetically engineered organisms, administer the federal Animal Welfare Act and carry out wildlife damage management activities.

“We’re delighted to see someone with Smith’s experience in this important leadership role,” says Jill Appell, National Pork Producers Council president. “Her extensive experience in various APHIS programs will provide a smooth transition in leadership as the United States confronts an ever-increasing threat of foreign animal and plant diseases and trade-distorting sanitary and phytosantitary barriers.”

Smith began her career with APHIS in 1979 shortly after graduating from high school. She has held numerous positions in the agency, including deputy administrator for biotechnology regulatory services and associate deputy administrator for wildlife services. She played a major role in shaping the agency’s biotechnology regulatory structure, establishing more rigorous requirements for field tests of genetically engineered crops and initiating efforts to review and strengthen the agency’s overarching biotechnology regulations.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s degree in management from the University of Maryland.

“We’re pleased that Smith will be the first woman to lead APHIS in its 35-year history,” Appell notes. “The U.S. pork industry believes Sec. Johanns made an excellent choice.”