Tonsager named FCA chairman, CEO

Former South Dakota Farmers Union president and USDA undersecretary takes reins of Farm Credit Administration.

Dallas Tonsager has been designated by President Barack Obama as chairman and chief executive officer of the Farm Credit Administration (FCA). The designation was effective Nov. 22.

Tonsager has served as a member of the FCA board and concurrently as chairman of the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corp. (FCSIC) since his appointment to the position by Obama in March 2015. His term on the FCA board will expire on May 21, 2020. He succeeds Kenneth A. Spearman, who has served as chairman and CEO since March 13, 2015. Spearman will remain a member of the FCA and FCSIC boards until a successor is appointed and confirmed by the Senate.

Tonsager brings to his position on the FCA board extensive experience as an agriculture leader and producer, and a commitment to promoting and implementing innovative development strategies to benefit rural residents and their communities.

Tonsager served as undersecretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013. In this position, he expanded broadband communication in rural America and implemented other key elements of the Recovery Act for Rural America. He dramatically expanded USDA’s water and wastewater programs, expanded funding for first- and second-generation biofuels and funded hospitals and other public facilities in rural America.

In addition, Tonsager worked with the Farm Credit System and others to set up new venture capital investment funds. From 2010 to 2013, he was a member of the Commodity Credit Corp. board of directors.

From 2004 to 2009, Tonsager served as a member of the FCA board as well as a member of the FCSIC board of directors.

From 2002 to 2004, he was the executive director of the South Dakota Value-Added Agriculture Development Center. In this position, he coordinated initiatives to better serve producers interested in developing value-added agricultural projects. Services provided by the center include project facilitation, feasibility studies, business planning, market assessment, technical assistance and education.

In 1993, he was selected by President Bill Clinton to serve as USDA’s state director for rural development in South Dakota. Tonsager oversaw a diversified portfolio of housing, business and infrastructure loans in South Dakota. His term ended in February 2001.

A longtime member of the South Dakota Farmers Union, Tonsager served two terms as president of the organization from 1988 to 1993. During that same period, he was a board member of Green Thumb Inc., a nationwide job training program for senior citizens. In addition, he served on the board of National Farmers Union Insurance from 1989 to 1993, and he was a member of the advisory board of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1990 to 1993.

Tonsager grew up on a dairy farm near Oldham, S.D. For many years, he and his older brother owned Plainview Farm in Oldham, a family farm on which they raised corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Tonsager is a graduate of South Dakota State University, earning a bachelor degree in agriculture in 1976.

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