The Biden Administration on Thursday appointed eight individuals to state USDA posts.

Five of the USDA appointees will serve as state executive directors at USDA’s Farm Service Agency and three will serve as state directors in Rural Development offices. FSA is responsible for implementing policy and carrying out grant programs, as well as overseeing conservation, commodity, disaster, and farm marketing programs at the state level. Rural development handles economic development and essential services buildout to rural America.

“Here at USDA, we continue to add experienced and talented individuals to our state offices,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I have full confidence in the work these new State Directors and State Executive Directors will accomplish to advance USDA’s mission in their local communities.”

Rural Development

Thomas Carew was tapped to lead rural development for Kentucky. Carew spent about a decade working in Central Appalachia as the executive vice president of membership and housing for Fahe, a network of nonprofits focused on improving life in the Appalachians. There, he worked to grow the group’s affordable housing nonprofits, continuing his career in affordable housing. In addition to Fahe, Carew has also worked for the Kentucky Housing Corporation and Frontier Housing. All told, Carew has spent 35 years working in Appalachian housing.

Michele Weaver will lead rural development in Utah. Weaver is a small business owner and former banker who was appointed to the Utah Commission for Housing Affordability in 2018, where she worked to highlight challenges facing rural communities. She has been working on affordable housing issues for more than 25 years and was most recently working on technical and management assistance issues through Rural Development Funding.

Jill Floyd will take the reins at rural development in Arkansas. Floyd is currently the director of community and client engagement with a Little Rock-based contracting firm. She also leads a company initiative to encourage girls to consider careers in science technology, engineering, math and construction. She also has experience in the mechanical space as a project manager with Cummins Engine and a quality engineer for Ford Motor Company.

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Farm Service Agency

Emily Cole will lead the FSA in Connecticut. Cole was previously the New England regional deputy director for American Farmland Trust, where she supported farmers' efforts to increase climate-smart practices. She holds a Ph.D. from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studied plant and soil sciences. Her research focused on improving soil health and carbon sequestration.

John Paterson will be FSA executive director in Ohio. A former state legislator and classroom teacher, Paterson served on the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee, including two terms as ranking member. He co-authored several ag-related bills including funding bills for H2Ohio and the Young Farmers Tax Credit bill. Paterson holds a Ph.D. in education from Kent State University and taught history at Jefferson Area High School in Ohio. He retired from teaching in 2012.

Kelly Adkins will lead FSA in Texas. Adkins has previously worked for the Farm Service Agency in multiple capacities in Texas, including as a country executive director and a district director as well as several roles with the Texas Association of FSA County Office Employees. She currently resides in Canyon, Texas, and is involved in a small farm and cattle operation. She has also been involved in various state agricultural commodity associations.

Eric Scherer was tapped to lead FSA in Rhode Island. Scherer is a certified USDA technical service provider and conservation planner and has assisted producers with their comprehensive nutrient management plans as well as their grazing plans. Previously, Scherer was the executive director of the Southern Rhode Island Conservation District. He also boasts 37 years of federal service ranging from the Peace Corps to multiple roles with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Gail Greenman will lead Oregon’s FSA. Greenman was most recently the executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance, an organization that worked toward advancing transportation, workforce development, affordable housing, and other issues key to the Portland area. Before joining WEA, Greenman was the lead federal public affairs professional for the Oregon Farm Bureau as well as a director of government affairs for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools.

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