USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has appointed Robert Bonnie as senior adviser to the Secretary for Environment and Climate. Bonnie is an executive of the Environmental Defense Fund.

In his position, Bonnie, who is EDF's vice-president for Land Conservation and Wildlife, will guide policy and program decisions with an emphasis on the nation's natural resources and climate issues.

Bonnie is described as a national expert on the use of markets as a means to reward stewardship on farms, ranches and forest lands, including carbon credits and conservation of endangered species.

"Robert Bonnie brings to USDA 14 years of experience at the Environmental Defense Fund where he worked to conserve natural resources and protect the climate on America's farms, ranches and forest lands," Vilsack said. "President Obama has been clear that two of his top goals for the department are related to the environment: expanding the capacity of our land, our farms, and our ranches to produce alternative forms of energy and fuel; and developing the research that will help agriculture transition away from its significant dependence on fossil fuels.”

Bonnie is a Harvard graduate and holds a master's degree in resource economics and forestry from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. He was raised on a farm in Kentucky and currently lives in Virginia.