Howell named state executive director for USDA agricultural services agency

usdaThe Biden administration recently named Dr. Ronald Howell Jr. as the new state executive director of the USDA Virginia Farm Service Agency.

Dr. Howell joined the Virginia FSA team on Monday.

“The people selected to serve as FSA state executive directors are incredible public servants with a proven track record of commitment to advancing their states and communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak. “Each will serve on the front lines, fulfilling the USDA mission at the state level and ensuring that the voice of every USDA customer is heard. We are fortunate to have each of these talented individuals at this critical time for farmers, growers and rural communities across America.

Dr. Howell comes to this new position with more than 12 years of professional experience in higher education, state and federal government. In the summer of 2018, he began his tenure as Director of Operations and Management at Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture. In this capacity, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the College and the University Farm. He also held an administrative position in the Department of Agriculture and served as a faculty instructor, teaching courses in agricultural education and mechanization.

Previously, Dr. Howell served as Special Assistant/Advisor for Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives to the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, in the office of Governors Virginia McAuliffe and Northam, respectively. Throughout the Commonwealth, he has worked to strengthen outreach efforts and the participation of minority and resource-constrained producers in USDA and state agricultural and conservation programs. In addition, he made recommendations for the Virginia Farm Business Development Program (VFBD) and the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Program.

As SED, Dr. Howell will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of FSA programs to agricultural producers in Virginia. These commodity, conservation, credit and disaster relief programs ensure consumers have a safe, affordable, plentiful and nutritious supply of food, fiber and fuel.

“The State Executive Director is a critical leadership position for the Agency and for the agricultural producers we serve,” said Marcus Graham, FSA Deputy Administrator for Field Operations. “These leaders, appointed by the Biden-Harris administration, bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their respective states. We are happy to have them on board and wish them much success.

The Agricultural Services Agency serves farmers, ranchers, foresters and agricultural partners through the effective, efficient and equitable delivery of federal agricultural programs. The Agency provides producers with a strong safety net through the administration of commodity and disaster programs. Additionally, through conservation programs, the FSA continues to preserve and protect natural resources and provides credit to agricultural producers who cannot receive private commercial credit, including targeted loan funds for beginners, mal served, women and military veterans involved in productive agriculture.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the Rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America.

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