Vilsack Names 5 Vermonters, Nominated By Leahy, To USDA's Farm Service Agency State Committee

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced the five Obama Administration appointees to USDA’s Farm Service Agency State Committee in Vermont – the advisory body that will guide the work of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Vermont in implementing agriculture conservation, loan, disaster relief, and financial programs, resolving appeals from Vermont’s farm community, and informing producers about Farm Service Agency programs.  The five Vermonters were recommended to Vilsack by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the state’s senior U.S. senator and the most senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry, which has jurisdiction over USDA.  The announcements were made as Secretary Vilsack prepares to visit Vermont for several events this weekend -- 

Below is the list of Vermonters, in USDA’s formal announcement of the appointments --  

Obama Administration Names Appointees to USDA’s Farm Service Agency State Committee in Vermont

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2010 - The Obama Administration today announced the individuals who will serve on the Vermont Farm Service Agency State Committee. The State Committee members will oversee the activities of the agency, including carrying out the state agricultural conservation programs, resolving appeals from the agriculture community and helping to keep producers informed about FSA programs. 

“These individuals will work with USDA to help farmers and ranchers build and maintain successful operations that produce the safe, nutritious food supply that America needs while spurring economic development in our nation’s rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They bring the experience and passion necessary to help continue the Obama Administration's efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America.” 

The individuals appointed to serve on this committee include: 

John D. E. Roberts (Chairperson)

Roberts is from West Cornwall, Vermont. Roberts operates a diversified Brown Swiss family dairy farm and was a delegate to the New England Dairy Promotion Board. Roberts’ extensive experience includes terms on his local select board, planning and zoning boards, the Vermont Water Resources Board, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the National Beef Promotion Board, the National Grazing Lands Initiative and the Vermont Brown Swiss Association.  

Amanda H. Ellis-Thurber

Ellis-Thurber, from Brattleboro, Vermont, operates an organic dairy and diversified farm with her husband and his parents.  They raise vegetables, fruits, flowers, operate a farm stand as well as produce maple syrup, grow Christmas trees and actively manage their forest land for saw logs and firewood.  Thurber is also active in the Farm to Plate initiative to encourage the use of more locally grown food. Her family homestead in Nebraska dates to 1879 and remains in the family today as an active farm operated by a Nebraska resident in partnership with Thurber’s family.   

K. Michael Howrigan

Howrigan, from Fairfield, Vermont, serves as treasurer of his family’s dairy farm business and oversees a large maple sugaring operation.  Howrigan is a member of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and the Franklin County Maple Producers Cooperative.  His past experience includes service on the FSA County Committee, the Vermont Maple Industry Council and community service in school construction and athletics.  The Howrigan family is well known for their long service to the dairy industry, both in Vermont and nationwide. 

Elizabeth G. “Beth” Kennett

Kennett manages and operates Liberty Hill Farm, a Holstein dairy and a farm vacation business with her husband and sons. She has provided lodging and meals for guests from around the world for over 25 years.  Beth serves as President of the Vermont Farms Association and is a member of Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative. She is also a trustee of the Eastern States Exposition.  

Brendan J. “Bren” Whittaker

Whittaker is from Brunswick, Vermont.  Whittaker operates a vegetable farm, roadside stand and in season restaurant supply business with his wife. He is a forester by training, served on the Connecticut River Joint Commission and was a selectman in the Town of Brunswick.  He has also served as a county forester, Director of the Vermont Energy Office, as Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources and as a member of the Northern Forest Lands Council.  He co-chaired Vermont’s first Food and Agriculture Commission and worked for “The New England Farmer” newspaper.  

USDA’s Farm Services Agency works to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Americans. Some of the agency's efforts include facilitating income support, disaster assistance and conservation programs, providing operating loans for the procurement of farm equipment, seed and fertilizer, as well as offering ownership loans to help new and veteran producers purchase a farm. FSA also works to procure various commodities to benefit low-income families through domestic food assistance programs. 

The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Reflecting President Obama's commitment to expanding economic opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA are working to enhance availability of broadband, promote the development of renewable energy, to conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment, and promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply. 

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