This story was updated at 6:33 p.m. on 1/19/22 to include comment from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Additional staff is coming to agriculture and rural development offices in Pennsylvania and across the country, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have said.
The Biden administration announced last Thursday its intent to appoint five new staffers to regional positions, including in Pennsylvania, to the USDA’s nationwide Farm Service Agency (FSA).
The five FSA state executive directors will “oversee FSA operations and agricultural policy implementation in their state,” according to a USDA statement.
“As we work to build a better America, we need talented and experienced staff working in our state offices,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome these dedicated individuals to USDA at such an important time in the Biden-Harris administration.”
Heidi Secord, who will serve as the FSA state executive director for Pennsylvania, is a farmer-member of the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission. She was appointed to that role by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Secord also has served as the state president of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union and was a sitting member of the National Farmers Union Board of Directors.
“She has engaged in agricultural policy committee work with multiple organizations, including PASA Sustainable Agriculture Board, Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO), All Together Now Pennsylvania, and the Monroe County Conservation District,” a statement from the USDA reads.
Officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said they were “tremendously pleased” with Secord’s appointment.
“She brings new perspective as the first female FSA director in Pennsylvania and someone who knows traditional production methods and regenerative agriculture alike,” Agriculture Spokesperson Shannon Powers told the Capital-Star. “Heidi has the breadth and depth of experience and knowledge – both personal and professional – of the issues and challenges faced by Pennsylvania agriculture as we seek to feed a growing world population amid climate change and increasingly complex risks.”
Powers added that the state Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s FSA and Rural Development offices work together as partners to address “the challenges and opportunities” of Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry.
“We need the diverse perspectives, the valuable data, the investments to compliment and amplify ours, as well as their finger on the pulse of rural PA. We’re pleased to have more hands and minds focused on Pennsylvania’s unique landscape and issues,” Powers said.
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