02.19.09

Leahy Recommends Longtime Aide Robert Paquin To Head USDA’s Farm Service Agency In Vermont

(THURSDAY, Feb. 19) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has recommended longtime policy aide Robert Paquin of Shelburne to serve as State Executive Director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency for Vermont.  The Farm Service Agency administers farm commodity, crop insurance, credit, environmental conservation and emergency assistance programs for farmers.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Leahy said, “Bob Paquin has been one of the longest serving and most trusted members of my staff since my first term.  His strong experience in Vermont agriculture and conservation, coupled with a solid work ethic, make him a superior choice to represent the Farm Service Agency in Vermont.”

Leahy’s recommendation will carry great weight as Vilsack appoints Vermont’s next Farm Service Agency director.  Leahy is Vermont’s senior U.S. Senator and the most senior member of either party on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which oversees USDA.

In his letter, Leahy cited Paquin’s uncommon depth of experience.  “Over the years, he has developed strong working relationships with all sectors of Vermont and regional agriculture and has covered several natural disasters affecting Vermont agriculture such as floods, droughts and ice storms.” 

He said he intends to continue to tap Paquin’s “knowledge, experience and wisdom” in Leahy’s work for Vermont on the Agriculture Committee.  “Farming is vitally important to our state.  Agriculture, and dairy farming in particular, are deeply embedded in Vermont’s economy, infrastructure and culture.  The person in this post is the eyes and the ears of USDA in Vermont, and no one is better equipped to fill that role for Vermonters than Bob Paquin.”

A native of Franklin County, Paquin earned bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Vermont and did post-graduate research at the London School of Economics.  He has also served on the University of Vermont’s College of Agriculture Advisory Board for several years.

Paquin worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant before returning to Vermont where he has worked for many years with the agricultural and conservation community.  He was actively involved in the 1985, 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills and has worked with Leahy in drafting several pieces of legislation enacted into law addressing agriculture, forestry, water quality and related issues.

Paquin said, “It has been a privilege and a superb education to work with Senator Leahy for Vermont over these many years.  I am honored that he has recommended me for this position which would allow me to continue working on behalf of Vermont agriculture with a dedicated Vermont Farm Service Agency staff.”

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