WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Robert Bonnie as Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Environment and Climate.

In this position, Bonnie will help guide broad policy and program decisions with an emphasis on those concerning the nation's natural resources and climate issues.

"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.

"Robert's work on conservation incentives and markets, as well as conservation policy, will help guide USDA as we address some of the most challenging issues facing our nation's future."

Bonnie is Vice-President for Land Conservation and Wildlife at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a non-profit organization that tackles the nation's most serious environmental problems. Bonnie's focus at EDF is on the development and expansion of conservation incentives and markets that reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for land stewardship.

Since joining EDF in 1995, Bonnie helped establish and has managed the organization's Center for Conservation Incentives. He has been extensively involved in the development of Safe Harbor and other incentive programs under the Endangered Species Act, as well as conservation programs under the 2008 Farm Bill.

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

A Harvard graduate, Bonnie holds a master's degree in resource economics and forestry from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, Durham, N.C. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.