Perdue announces Farm Service Agency and Rural Development state directors
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a slate of Farm Service Agency and Rural Development state directors.
All serve as appointees of President Donald Trump, Perdue noted.
FSA state directors help implement Agriculture Department policies in planning, organizin, and administering FSA programs in their states, a news release noted, and run the day-to-day activities of the state office.
Similarly, Rural Development state directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America, USDA said.
“These state directors will help ensure that USDA is offering the best customer service to our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers across the country,” Perdue said.
“FSA and RD both play a critical role in helping the people of agriculture, and are able to connect with people in their home states,” the secretary said. “They are the initial points of contact for millions of our USDA customers. Our goal is to help rural America prosper, and these state leaders will be of great assistance in that task.”
Following is the list of state directors released by USDA, with edited biographies.
Farm Service Agency State Directors
Alabama | David McCurdy — Began his USDA career in 1987 and has served in various roles in the Farm Service Agency. A third-generation farmer, he raises cattle, farms soy beans and corn, and maintains a small timber operation.
Alaska | Bryan Scoresby — Began his USDA career in 1987 and came to Alaska in 1992 to serve as district director of the FSA.
Arkansas | David Curtis — Has been with the FSA for 34 years, serving as the county director with loan approval authority in North Central Arkansas.
California | Aubrey Bettencourt — A third-generation California farmer who served as the executive director of the California Water Alliance, which helps farmers meet the need for a clean, reliable water supply.
Colorado | Clarice Navarro — Was elected to the Colorado State House of Representatives in 2012 and has been an advocate for the agricultural community.
Connecticut | Clark Chapin — Was a state legislator for 16 years before becoming project director for Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust.
Florida | Neil Combee — Serves in the Florida House of Representatives and previously served on the board of Southwest Florida Water Management District and was a Polk County commissioner.
Georgia | Tas Smith — Has been employed at the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation since 2005, working with farmers to help shape federal farm policy.
Hawaii | Allen Frenzel — Is a logistics management professional who worked for Defense Logistics Agency on the U.S. Pacific Command staff after retiring as an Army colonel with 27 years of active service.
Idaho | Evan Erasure — Serves as a commissioner for Bannock County, Idaho, and has an extensive background in business.
Illinois | William Graff — Former state executive director of the Illinois Farm Service Agency.
Indiana | Steve Brown — A former USDA employee with 32 years of experience in Porter County, Carroll County, and the Indiana State FSA office, in addition to 30 years of working on his family farm.
Iowa | Amanda De Jong — Most recently held the position of senior policy adviser at the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and has also worked with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and the USDA.
Kansas | David Schemm — Has served as president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and president of National Association of Wheat Growers.
Kentucky | Brian Lacefield — Served as market president of FNB Bank, and is a board member for the Kentucky Corn Growers, Kentucky FFA Foundation, and the Kentucky Ag Leadership Program.
Louisiana | Craig McCain — A career FSA employee with more than 30 years of service to Louisiana agriculture, serving on many task forces responsible for writing FSA policy and developing software applications.
Maine | Dave Lavway — Served as deputy commissioner with the state of Maine for the departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and Administrative and Financial Services, all in addition to work with the Maine Potato Board, National Potato Council, and Maine Farm Service Agency.
Maryland | Jim Eichhorst — Serves as deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and was an appointee at USDA in the George W. Bush administration.
Michigan | Joel Johnson — Served in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2010 where he advocated for the agricultural producers of the state.
Minnesota | Joe Martin — Has served the Minnesota and American Farm Bureau Federations and also as assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He and his wife run a small cattle operation.
Mississippi | Bobby Carson — Has worked with the National Cotton Council and was president and chairman of Cotton Incorporated and the Cotton Foundation before serving on the Mississippi FSA State Committee from 2003 through 2008.
Missouri | Richard Fordyce — Has served as Missouri director of agriculture, and also on the United Soybean Board and Missouri’s Soil & Water Districts Commission.
Nebraska | Nancy Johner — Comes to the USDA with more than 25 years of senior executive leadership in county, state and federal government as well as the private sector.
Nevada | Janice Kolvet — Started her USDA career more than 20 years ago in Nevada and in Washington at the Farm Service Agency.
New Hampshire | Jeffrey Holmes — A fifth-generation dairy farmer who has served as president of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.
New Jersey | Barry Calogero — Brings more than 30 years’ finance experience across various domestic and international operations.
New York | Clark Putman — Has been a dairy farmer for more than 29 years and is a career civil servant with the FSA.
North Carolina | Len McBride — Began his career with the FSA 32 years ago, and most recently served as a district director in Statesville, N.C.
North Dakota | Brad Thykeson — Has been an owner and operator of a farming operation in Barnes and Steele County for 33 years, is the owner of a commercial trucking business, and serves on both the National Wheat Growers Board and the American Farm Bureau Wheat Advisory Committee.
Ohio | Leonard Hubert — Served as the director of External Affairs & Economic Opportunity in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office and also as chairman of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
Oklahoma | Scott Biggs — Is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Oregon | Peggy Browne — From rural eastern Oregon, has experience in the agriculture and ecology consulting industry in the Pacific Northwest for 16 years, and has been a USDA program user, program consultant, small business owner, and ecologist.
Pennsylvania | Gary Groves — Previously served as state director for Rural Development in Pennsylvania. A graduate of Purdue University School of Agriculture, he lives on a farm in Wyoming County and raises Belgian draft horses.
South Carolina | Boone Peeler — Is vice president of Harvey Peeler’s Farm, Inc., has been a member of Gaffney, S.C., city council since 2006, and has worked at the South Carolina Health and Human Services Department.
South Dakota | Paul Shuck — Was instrumental in generating the Wetland CRP Pilot Program in South Dakota and hosts an agricultural radio program for the South Dakota Farm Bureau.
Tennessee | Dennis Beavers — Has business experience in the insurance industry and has served on various boards and commissions in Tennessee and Alabama.
Texas | Gary Six — Has been employed by USDA for 40 years, while also serving 32 years as county executive director of Yoakum County.
Utah | Bruce Richeson — Returns to service at the USDA, having served as the Utah FSA state executive director from 2006 to 2009.
Vermont | Wendy Wilton — Has served the city of Rutland as treasurer, tax collector and pension administrator for 10 years, and also served on the Education, Judiciary and Agriculture standing committee in the Vermont General Assembly.
Virginia | Nivin Elgohary — Has worked at USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and most recently served as senior vice president for electric, water, and community facilities at CoBank.
Washington | Brian Dansel — Served as a Ferry County commissioner before being elected in 2013 to the Washington State Senate, where he was vice chair of both the Natural Resources Committee and the Agriculture Committee.
Wisconsin | Sandra Chalmers — Most recently served as assistant deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection after serving as executive officer of the Wisconsin Farm Service Agency.
Wyoming | Lois Van Mark — Is a dry land wheat farmer and operates her family’s farm in Goshen County, Wyo.
Rural Development State Directors
Alabama | Chris Beeker — Grew up on a catfish and cattle farm in the smallest county of his state.
Alaska | Jerry Ward — Is an Athabascan Indian from the Caribou Tribe, and has a record of public service, including in the U.S. Navy Seabees in Vietnam, as rural affairs coordinator with the Department of Corrections, as legislative liaison for the Alaska Energy Authority. Has also served as a member of the state House of Representatives, with a seat on the Finance Committee, and in the state Senate as vice chairman of the Finance Committee.
Arizona | J.C. Sherman III — Has experience in the departments of Energy and Commerce, and private-sector experience at Executive Protection, director of sales for a division of Schneider Electric, and business development director with other Fortune 50 companies.
Arkansas | David Branscum — Is serving his fourth term in the Arkansas House of Representatives, and is a cattleman who has been active with several civic organizations.
California | Kim Dolbow Vann — Has been working and serving in California’s Rural Communities for almost 20 years.
Colorado | Sallie Clark — Is a former El Paso County commissioner, city councilmember, small-business entrepreneur, and past president of the National Association of Counties.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island | George Krivda — Has worked at the state Department of Agriculture for nearly 10 years serving as a project manager, public information officer, legislative program manager and chief of staff.
Delaware and Maryland | Denise Lovely — Brings more than 20 years of management experience, specifically in the areas of government, legislative affairs, public relations, economic development, agriculture, natural resources, real estate, and community outreach.
Florida | Sydney Gruters — Has worked for Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., for more than 10 years and has served as liaison on all USDA issues that affect rural development.
Georgia | Joyce White — Served as chief of staff in the Georgia Department of Agriculture, was an executive assistant for the CEO of Georgia-Pacific, and served the same role in Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s office when he was governor.
Hawaii | Gigi Jones — Founded a grassroots organization known as Cool Our Keiki and has worked in construction, small business, engineering and business development for more than 20 years.
Idaho | Layne Bangerter — Comes to Rural Development from the Environmental Protection Agency, and previously worked at the Fish and Wildlife Service and served as state director for Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
Illinois | Douglas Wilson — Is a third-generation Illinois farmer and past Illinois state director for Rural Development.
Indiana | Michael Reed Dora — A first-generation agricultural producer of livestock and grains since 1975.
Iowa | Annette Sweeney — Has served as a teacher, family farmer, church volunteer, and most recently as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Kansas | Lynne Hinrichsen — Joined the Kansas Department of Agriculture in 2013 as the agribusiness development director, and previously worked in sales, marketing, advertising and human resource consulting.
Kentucky | Hilda Legg — Brings more than 30 years of experience in federal government agency management, as a consultant for rural infrastructure, in economic development in rural Appalachia, in education, project management, and as a business owner.
Louisiana | Carrie Castille — Served as associate commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, held a faculty position with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, and created the successful Louisiana Master Farmer Program.
Maine | Tim Hobbs — Brings more than 15 years of experience working with and for potato growers, processors, and dealers in Maine on issues that affect their competitiveness and profitability.
Michigan | Jason Allen — Is a small businessman, veteran, and former state senator, who has been working for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Minnesota | Brad Finstad — Served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and is the CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, the state’s only statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan rural policy research center.
Mississippi | John Rounsaville — Served as state director for Rural Development in the administration of President George W. Bush.
Missouri | Jeff Case — Is vice president and senior relationship manager at Rabo AgriFinance, LLC.
Montana | Charles Robison — Joined USDA as a Forest Service firefighter in 1998, working on an engine crew, as a hotshot, and as a helitack rappeller.
Nebraska | Karl Elmshaeuser — Serves on the Nebraska Regional Officials Council and the National Association of Development Organizations, having served as executive director for the West Central Nebraska Development District for 11 years. Also served two terms on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, and six years in the Marine Corps.
Nevada | Philip Cowee — Has spent nearly 20 years developing properties and running businesses in Lyon County, Nevado.
New Hampshire | Anthony Lindaros — Brings more than 18 years of business development experience and executive management in the pharmaceutical industry, and is a veteran of the Army Reserve.
North Carolina | Bob Chandler — Had his first internship with USDA in 1974, serving for 35 years, and retiring in 2009. Since then he has been consulting for a faith-based nonprofit and holding USDA mediations for the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program and Farm Agricultural Resources and Mediation in Virginia.
North Dakota | Clare Carlson — Has served nearly eight years as the state director of Rural Development and was previously a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.
Ohio | Dave Hall — Started working on his grandparents’ farm in the 1960s and has since served as a commissioner for the Ohio Exposition Commission for the Ohio State Fair and chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the state House of Representatives.
Oklahoma | Lee Denney — Was a veterinarian with a mixed animal practice for 35 years and has served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and on the Cushing City Commission.
Oregon | John Huffman — Has spent 10 years as an Oregon state representative and before that owned and managed a radio station for 22 years.
Pennsylvania | Curt Coccodrilli — Has promoted rural economic development and led campaigns to ensure state and federal regulations recognize the need for such development.
South Carolina | Debbie Turbeville — Is being promoted to state director after serving in almost every role at the state Rural Development, having risen in the ranks from the GS-2 level when she started in 1982.
South Dakota | Julie Gross — Is the economic development director for the Lake Area Improvement Corporation in Madison.
Tennessee | Jim Tracy — Ran a small business in a rural Tennessee community for 24 years before being elected to the state Senate in 2004 as an advocate for agriculture issues in the state.
Texas | Edd Hargett — Began working for electric cooperatives in 1974 and has served as general manager.
Utah | Randy Parker — Has served as chief executive officer of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation for almost 14 years.
Virginia | Elizabeth Walker Green — Has been working in federal and state politics for more than 30 years.
Washington | Kirk Pearson — Has served in the Washington State Legislature for 17 years, serving on the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade, and Economic Development Committee and as chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.
West Virginia | Kris Warner — Has more than 25 years of leadership in West Virginia business development and is also a charter member of the state-wide program Leadership Monongalia.
Wisconsin | Frank Frasetto — Served as state director at Rural Development from 2001 to 2009, was the administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, and has been chairman of the rural town of Black Wolf since 1997.
Wyoming | Chad Rupe — Has served previously with USDA, as an officer in the U.S. Army, and as a community banker in Wyoming for 11 years.