President Nominates Two More to USDA

Administration keeps working to fill positions in the ag agency - this time for Rural Development and for the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Published on: Mar 16, 2009
Late Friday, President Barack Obama announced the intention to nominate James W. Miller to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Dallas P. Tonsager to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development.

In the press announcement, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack comments that Miller and Tonsager are "well aware of the challenges and opportunities in rural America. They have dedicated their lives to enhancing the success and improving the lives of farmers, rangers and those living in rural areas."

Miller is currently chief of staff for the National Farmers Union, a position he has held since 1999. Before that, he served four years as a senior analyst for agriculture and trade on the majority staff of the Senate Budget Committee. He has also served as chief economist for NFU and as vice president for government relations for the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Miller operated a fourth-generation family farm in eastern Washington for more than 20 years and served as president of NAWG in 1987.

Tonsager currently serves as a board member of the Farm Credit Administration, a position to which he was appointed in 2004. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation. Prior to his FCA appointment, he was executive director of the South Dakota Value-Added Agriculture Development Center. Tonsager was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the South Dakota State Rural Development Director in 1993 and was named one of the two outstanding state directors by USDA in 1999. In partnership with his brother, he owns Plainview Farm in Oldham, S.D., an operation that raises corn, soybeans, wheat and hay.