Leahy Hires Seasoned Policy Advisor

. . . Berry To Tackle Agriculture, Environmental, and Natural Resource Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Friday announced that he has tapped Tom Berry to be his next policy advisor on agriculture, conservation, energy and natural resource issues in Leahy’s Montpelier office.  Berry will replace Bob Paquin, who was appointed last week by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack as State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency for Vermont. 

Berry joins Leahy’s staff with ten years of Senate experience already under his belt; he worked for Senator Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) from 1997 to 2006 and stayed on for several months with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) when he was elected, to help his transition in the Senate.  As Jeffords’ Natural Resources Coordinator, Berry became a skilled policy advisor, as well as a respected liaison between Vermont farmers and the legislative staff in Washington.  Berry’s most current post is Director for the Lake Champlain Program run by the Vermont and Adirondack branches of the Nature Conservancy.  As the program’s first Director, Berry brought innovative ideas to help the Lake by including climate change in lake management discussions, initiating a Lake-wide colonial nesting bird management plan, and beginning pilot work to remove barriers to fish migration in the Lake’s tributaries. 

Leahy said, “Over the years Tom has put in countless hours for conservation priorities in Vermont.  I worked with Tom on many issues important to Vermont when he was on Jim’s staff.  Whether it was the Dairy Compact or a Farm Bill, it was clear that Tom always put Vermont first.  I look forward to Tom helping us advance Vermont’s goals as a new member of my staff.”

Bob Klein, The Nature Conservancy’s State Director in Vermont, sees a silver lining in Tom Berry’s move:  “Sen. Leahy is well known for his support in environmental matters, and many conservation programs on Lake Champlain wouldn’t be there now, but for his initiative and interest.  As the Senator’s liaison for agriculture, natural resources, energy, and the environment in Vermont, Tom can help steer resources to these programs.  We’ll miss Tom, but he’ll be in a position to make good things happen, and we hope Tom will continue collaborating with us.”  Klein and his counterpart Mike Carr in the Adirondacks say they will continue these initiatives with existing staff in Vermont and New York.  Carr notes that “with the strong foundations Tom has built, we are well positioned to move forward with key conservation strategies and programs in the Lake Champlain basin."

Berry is slated to join Leahy’s staff the second week of August.

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