USDA recognizes FY 2017 Presidential Rank Awards winners

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – On Dec. 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognized three of its talented employees for being honored as FY 2017 Presidential Rank Awards winners. Jere L. Dick of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) received a Distinguished Rank award, and both Cyril G. Gay and Jerry L. Hatfield of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) received a Meritorious Professional award.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded these winners and their service in the department with the following statement:

“It’s truly an honor to work alongside such dedicated civil servants, and I’m excited to see their excellent work recognized. USDA employees all across the country work hard every day to provide the best possible help to the people we serve. It’s our shared goal to be the most effective, efficient, customer-focused federal department, and I’m thankful for people like Jere, Cyril, and Jerry who are helping us reach that goal.”

Distinguished Rank award winner Dr. Jere Dick serves as associate administrator of APHIS and received this award for, among many things, his role in response efforts to the 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in poultry, as well as his work in developing USDA’s new feral swine control program. Dr. Cyril Gay, who has led the USDA-ARS Animal Health National Program for 15 years, received the Meritorious Professional award in part for his international recognition as a leading authority in vaccinology and biodefense research. Jerry Hatfield, director of ARS’ National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa, received the Meritorious Professional award for his extensive research on agriculture’s influence on environmental quality. Hatfield leads the agriculture sector for the National Climate Assessment, part of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 established the Presidential Rank Awards Program to recognize a select group of career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) for exceptional performance over an extended period of time. Later, the Rank Award statute was amended to extend eligibility to senior career employees with a sustained record of exceptional professional, technical, and/or scientific achievement recognized on a national or international level.

Two categories of Presidential Rank Award are available: distinguished and meritorious. Distinguished Rank recipients are recognized for sustained extraordinary accomplishment. Only one percent of the career SES or SL/ST may receive this rank. Meritorious Rank recipients are recognized for sustained accomplishment.