Perdue names FSA, Rural Development state directors

All 50 state directors named for Farm Service Agency and Rural Development.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced late Friday a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) state directors, all serving as appointees of President Donald J. Trump.

FSA state directors help implement U.S. Department of Agriculture policies on planning, organizing and administering FSA programs in their respective states. They are also responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the state FSA office. Similarly, RD state directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.

“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. 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.”

The following is a list of state directors Perdue released:

FSA state directors:

Alabama: David McCurdy began his career with USDA in 1987 and has served in various roles throughout FSA. A third-generation farmer, David raises cattle, farms soy beans and corn and also maintains a small timber operation.

Alaska: Bryan Scoresby began his career with USDA in 1987 and came to Alaska in 1992 to serve the industry as district director of FSA.

Arkansas: David Curtis has worked the past 34 years for FSA, serving as the county director with loan approval authority in north-central Arkansas. 

California: Aubrey Bettencourt is a third-generation California farmer who not only brings to USDA her farming experience but has also served as the executive director of the California Water Alliance while helping farmers meet for a clean, reliable water supply.

Colorado: Clarice Navarro was elected to the Colorado state House of Representatives in 2012 and has been a strong advocate for the agricultural community during her time as a legislator.

Connecticut: Clark Chapin earned the respect of the agriculture community through his 16 years as a state legislator before becoming project director for Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust.

Florida: Neil Combee currently serves in the Florida House of Representatives and previously served on the board of the 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, with a focus on working with farmers across Georgia to positively shape federal farm policy. 

Hawaii: Allen "Al" Frenzel is a logistics management professional who previously 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 S. Frasure Jr. currently serves as a commissioner for Bannock County and has an extensive background in business.

Illinois: William Graff is a former state executive director of the Illinois FSA.

Indiana: Steve Brown is a former USDA employee with 32 years of experience in Porter County, Carroll County and the Indiana State Farm Service Agency Office, in addition to 30 years of working on his family farm.

Iowa: Amanda De Jong most recently held the position of senior policy advisor at the Iowa Corn Growers Assn. and has also served in prior roles with U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and USDA.

Kansas: David Schemm has served as president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Kentucky: Brian Lacefield served recently as the market president of FNB Bank and currently serves as a board member for the Kentucky Corn Growers, Kentucky FFA Foundation and the Kentucky Ag Leadership Program.

Louisiana: Craig McCain is a career FSA employee with more than 30 years of service to Louisiana agriculture, serving on numerous task forces responsible for writing FSA policy and developing software applications.

Maine: Dave Lavway served in deputy commissioner positions with the state of Maine for the departments of agriculture, conservation and forestry and administrative and financial services, all in addition to his work with the Maine Potato Board, National Potato Council and Maine FSA.

Maryland: Jim Eichhorst was an appointee at USDA under the George W. Bush Administration and currently serves as deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Michigan: Joel Johnson served in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2010, where he advocated for the agricultural producers of Michigan.

Minnesota: Joe Martin has served the Minnesota Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation and also as the assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He lives in LeSueur County, where he and his wife Staci run a small cattle operation.

Mississippi: Bobby Carson has worked with the National Cotton Council and served as president and chairman of Cotton Inc. and the Cotton Foundation before also serving on the Mississippi FSA state committee from 2003 to 2008.

Missouri: Richard Fordyce has served as the Missouri director of agriculture and also on the United Soybean Board and Missouri’s Soil & Water Districts Commission.

Nebraska: Nancy Johner comes to 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 career for USDA more than 20 years ago in positions both in Nevada and in Washington, D.C., at FSA and returns from Washington to serve the farmers and ranchers of Nevada.

New Hampshire: Jeff Holmes is a fifth-generation dairy farmer and brings 32 years of farm experience to serve USDA, along with the experience of having served as president of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.

New Jersey: Barry Calogero brings 30-plus years of finance experience across various domestic and international operations.

New York: Clark Putman brings more than 20 years of experience as a dairy farmer, along with 29 years as a career civil servant with FSA.

North Carolina: Len McBride began his career with FSA 32 years ago and, prior to his appointment, served as a district director for FSA based 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 Federation Wheat Advisory Committee.

Ohio: Leonard Hubert served as the director of external affairs and economic opportunity in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office and also as the chairman of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Oklahoma: Scott Biggs is currently a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and is well known in the Oklahoma agricultural community for his work to enhance agriculture in the state. 

Oregon: Peggy Browne comes to USDA from rural eastern Oregon and brings experience from the agriculture and ecology consulting industry for the last 16 years in the Pacific Northwest and a wealth of knowledge as a USDA program user, program consultant, small business owner and ecologist.

Pennsylvania: Gary Groves returns to USDA having previously served as the state director for RD in Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the Purdue University School of Agriculture, lives on a farm in Wyoming County and raises Belgian draft horses.

South Carolina: Boone Peeler is the vice president of Harvey Peeler’s Farm Inc., has been a member of Gaffney city council since 2006 and has worked at the South Carolina Health & Human Services Department.

South Dakota: Paul Shubeck has dedicated his life to agriculture, was instrumental in generating the Wetland Conservation Reserve Program pilot program in South Dakota and currently hosts an agricultural radio program for the South Dakota Farm Bureau.

Tennessee: Dennis Beavers brings business experience in the insurance industry and serving on various boards and commissions in both Tennessee and Alabama to serve USDA and the farmers of Tennessee.

Texas: Gary Six has been employed by USDA for the past 40 years while also serving the last 32 years as county executive cirector of Yoakum County.

Utah: Bruce Richeson returns to USDA after having previously 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 the past 10 years and also served on the Education, Judiciary & Agriculture standing committee in the Vermont General Assembly.

Virginia: Nivin Elgohary has served rural America since 1999, when she started at USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, and she most recently served as senior vice president – electric, water and community facilities at CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving America’s rural infrastructure needs.

Washington: Brian Dansel served as a Ferry County Commissioner before being elected to the Washington state Senate in 2013, where he was vice chair of both the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Wisconsin: Sandra Chalmers most recently served as assistant deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection after serving as executive officer of the Wisconsin FSA.

Wyoming: Lois Van Mark is a dryland wheat farmer and operates her family’s farm in Goshen County.

RD state directors:

Alabama: Chris Beeker grew up on a catfish and cattle farm in the smallest county of his state and, through extensive experience of working on the family farm and other business ventures, has firsthand knowledge of the positive and important impacts of USDA programs for all communities and especially rural America.

Alaska: Jerry Ward is an Athabascan Indian from the Caribou Tribe born and raised in Alaska 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 and as legislative liaison for the Alaska Energy Authority. He 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 addressing rural Alaska issues. 

Arizona: J.C. Sherman comes to USDA with vast experience from the departments of Energy and Commerce, in addition to private-sector experience from Executive Protection, director of sales operations 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 cattle producer who has been active with several civic organizations serving to empower rural Arkansas.

California: Kim Vann has been working and serving in California’s rural communities for nearly 20 years, and her career gives her an excellent understanding of California’s’ rural communities needs and the experience to solve problems.

Colorado: Sallie Clark is a former El Paso County commissioner, city councilmember, well-known small business entrepreneur and past president of the National Association of Counties who has spent much of her career representing rural America.

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 Lovelady brings more than 20 years of executive and management experience in both the public and private sectors to USDA, 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 U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for more than 10 years in an official capacity and has served as the congressman’s liaison regarding 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 chief executive officer of Georgia-Pacific, served the same role in Perdue’s office when he served as governor and has focused on helping rural Georgia.

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. She knows first hand the challenges of living in remote and rural areas because she has lived, worked and volunteered in rural areas inside and outside of the U.S. for many years.

Idaho: Layne Bangerter comes to RD directly from his role at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He previously held varied roles in the Fish & Wildlife Service and served as state director for Sen. Mike Crapo.

Illinois: Douglas Wilson is a third-generation farmer, lifelong resident of rural Illinois and past Illinois state director for RD. He has served in leadership roles in a variety of agricultural, community and not-for-profit organizations.

Indiana: As a first-generation agricultural producer of livestock and grains since 1975, Michael Dora brings to the Trump Administration a deep knowledge of farming and business skills along with wide-ranging experiences of dedicated service and leadership to his state and community.

Iowa: Annette Sweeney brings local and international experience to RD, having served as a teacher, family farmer, church volunteer and, most recently, 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, prior to serving in the public sector, 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. She has served under three U.S. presidents to further opportunities for rural communities and residents in job creation and economic growth.

Louisiana: Dr. Carrie Castille served as associate commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry, held a faculty position with the Louisiana State University AgCenter and created the successful Louisiana Master Farmer Program.

Maine: Tim Hobbs brings 15-plus 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 currently works on rural development for the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Minnesota: Brad Finstad served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and is currently the CEO of the Center for Rural Policy & Development, which is Minnesota’s only statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan rural policy research center.

Mississippi: John Rounsaville served as state director for RD in the President George W. Bush Administration and brings to the Trump Administration two decades of experience in economic and community development, infrastructure planning and public policy.

Missouri: Jeff Case is vice president and senior relationship manager at Rabo AgriFinance LLC and has spent his career working in the agriculture industry in the areas of production, finance and education.

Montana: Charles first joined USDA as a Forest Service firefighter in 1998 working on an engine crew, as a Hotshot and as a helitack rappeller and said he looks forward to pursuing his passion for the struggles of rural Montana and the working families who call it home.

Nebraska: Karl Elmshaeuser has served as executive director for the West Central Nebraska Development District for the past 11 years, served two terms on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, currently serves on the Nebraska Regional Officials Council and the National Association of Development Organizations, served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a University of Nebraska graduate.

Nevada: Philip Cowee has spent nearly 20 years developing properties and running businesses in Lyon County, lives in Dayton with his wife and five children and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno.

New Hampshire: Army Reserve Veteran Anthony Lindaros brings more than 18 years of business development experience and executive management in the pharmaceutical industry.

North Carolina: Bob dedicated his career to agriculture from starting his first internship with USDA in 1974, serving for 35 years and retiring in 2009, since which he has been consulting for a faith-based nonprofit and holding USDA mediations for the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program and Farm Agricultural Resources & Mediation in Virginia.

North Dakota: Clare Carlson has served nearly eight years as state director of USDA RD and was previously a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Ohio: Dave Hall, whose experience in agriculture began in the late 1960s when he started working on his grandparents' farm, has since served as a commissioner for the Ohio Exposition Commission of the Ohio State Fair and chairman of the agriculture and natural resources committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Oklahoma: Lee Denney had 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 the past 10 years as an Oregon state representative and, prior to his legislative work, owned and managed a radio station for 22 years in north-central Oregon.

Pennsylvania: Curt Coccodrilli has been integrally involved in numerous efforts to address the needs of rural Pennsylvania, promoting rural economic development and leading campaigns to ensure that state and federal regulations recognize the need for such development.

South Carolina: Debbie Turbeville is being promoted to the position of state director after spending her entire career serving in almost every role at the state level of the agency, having risen in the ranks from the GS-2 level when she started in 1982.

South Dakota: Julie Gross, currently economic development director for the Lake Area Improvement Corp. in Madison, understands and appreciates the needs of rural communities and is looking forward to helping them become stronger and more vibrant with the programs USDA offers.

Tennessee: Jim Tracy ran a small business in a rural middle Tennessee community for 24 years before being elected to the state Senate in 2004 as an advocate for agricultural issues in the state.

Texas: Edd Hargett began working for Electric Cooperatives in 1974 and has served as general manager of both distribution and G&T systems.

Utah: Randy Parker comes to USDA after serving as CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation for most of the past 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 & Economic Development Committee and as chairman of the Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee, where he promoted legislation to help rural communities grow and thrive in the state of Washington.

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, which is designed to educate and sustain community leaders.

Wisconsin: Frank Frassetto has 30 years of public-sector experience, previously served as state director at RD from 2001 to 2009, was administrator for trade and consumer Protection at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, resides in the rural town of Black Wolf and has been the city's chairman since 1997.

Wyoming: Chad Rupe served previously with USDA as an officer in the U.S. Army and has a community banker in Wyoming for 11 years.

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