USDA Announces Additional Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors


Today, President Joe Biden introduced his intent to nominate eight U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regional positions, together with 5 Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Directors and three Rural Development (RD) State Directors.

“As we work to build a better America, we need talented and experienced staff working in our state offices,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are thrilled to welcome these dedicated individuals to USDA at such an important time in the Biden-Harris administration.”

FSA State Executive Directors oversee Farm Service Agency operations and agricultural coverage implementation within the state. Each State Executive Director works with the State Committee to manage FSA packages and County workplace operations, develops and maintains stakeholder relationships with prospects and different companies and governments.

RD State Directors function the chief govt officer of Rural Development within the states and territories and are tasked with finishing up the mission of Rural Development to the good thing about everybody in rural America. In conjunction with the steerage and assist of the National Office, State Directors are accountable for selling the mission and strategic objectives of Rural Development and supply key management to develop and assist a productive, various, and inclusive state workforce.

Farm Service Agency: 

Blong Xiong, FSA State Executive Director for California

Most just lately, Blong Xiong served because the Executive Director for the Asian Business Institute & Resource Center. Elected in 2006, he served two phrases as a Council Member for the City of Fresno, the place he was the primary elected Hmong Council Member within the State of California and the primary Asian Council Member within the City of Fresno. Xiong has additionally served because the Deputy Director for The Fresno Center, previously often called the Fresno Center for New Americans. Additionally, he sat on a number of commissions and boards: the Asian Pacific Islander Commission, the California Volunteer Commission, the Insurance Diversity Board and the Valley Small Business Development Corp. Xiong holds a Bachelor of Science diploma in Business Administration from Marian College of Fond du Lac, and a grasp’s diploma in Business Administration from National University.

Matt Gellings, FSA State Executive Director for Idaho

Matt Gellings has served on Idaho’s FSA State Committee for twelve years. He has served as chairman of the Leadership Idaho Agriculture Board of Trustees, the president of the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame, and the president of the Bonneville County Grain Producers Association. A fourth-generation farmer, Gellings produces alfalfa, wheat, malt barley and potatoes at his farm in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has additionally maintained a cattle operation for 26 years.

Whitney Place, FSA State Executive Director for Minnesota

Whitney Place most just lately served because the Assistant Commissioner on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). She had labored for MDA since 2012 within the roles of Director of Legislative Affairs, Assistant to the Commissioner, and Project Coordinator for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. Place earned a B.S. in Applied Plant Science and an M.S. in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota.

Heidi Secord, FSA State Executive Director for Pennsylvania

Heidi Secord has over 26 years of farming and regenerative agriculture expertise because the proprietor of the Josie Porter Farm in northeastern Pennsylvania. She at the moment serves as a farmer member on the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission, which she was appointed to by Governor Tom Wolf. Secord beforehand served because the State President for the Pennsylvania Farmers Union and sat on the National Farmers Union Board of Directors. She has engaged in agricultural coverage committee work with a number of organizations, together with PASA Sustainable Agriculture Board, Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO), All Together Now Pennsylvania, and the Monroe County Conservation District. Earlier in her profession, Secord served as a Peace Corps volunteer for 3 years in Mali and Lesotho. She graduated with a level in Business Management from the University of Rhode Island.

Dr. Ronald Howell, Jr., FSA State Executive Director for Virginia

Most just lately, Dr. Ronald Howell, Jr. served because the Director of Operations and Management within the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. He beforehand served because the Special Assistant and Advisor for Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives to the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry within the Offices of Governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam. Howell acquired his B.S. in Agriculture Business and Economics from Virginia State University in 2009 and earned a grasp’s diploma from Virginia Tech in Agricultural and Life Sciences in 2012. In 2021, he acquired his doctorate diploma in P-20 Education and Community Leadership with a spotlight in Agriculture Education from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. Howell resides in Spring Grove, Virginia.

Rural Development:

Lakeisha Hood, RD State Director for Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Most just lately, Lakeisha Hood served because the Director of the Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Prior to becoming a member of FDACS, she served as a legislative assistant within the Florida State Senate. A graduate of Alabama State University, Lakeisha obtained her Master of Education diploma from Auburn University at Montgomery and has earned regulation levels from North Carolina Central University School of Law and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Lakeisha at the moment resides in Tallahassee, Florida and is a licensed member of the State Bar of Georgia.

Rudy Soto, RD State Director for Idaho

Born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, Rudy Soto is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation and the son of a farmworker. Most just lately, he labored for Western Leaders Network, a nonpartisan nonprofit group of native and tribal elected officers throughout the Interior West targeted on defending public lands, water and air. Soto beforehand served as a legislative staffer within the U.S. House of Representatives and coated power, atmosphere, agriculture, schooling, transportation, and tribal points as a part of his portfolio. He is a proud veteran of the United States Army National Guard and acquired his bachelor’s diploma from Portland State University.

Helen Price Johnson, RD State Director for Washington

A 3rd-generation small enterprise proprietor, Helen Price Johnson concluded three phrases on the Island County Commission in 2021. She is a previous president of the Washington State Association of Counties, a two-term member of the South Whidbey School Board and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Whidbey Community Foundation. In these roles, she labored statewide advocating for small cities, small companies and rural lands

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