President Biden has selected a recent congressional candidate from Nampa to direct Idaho’s USDA rural development office.
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — A fourth-generation Idaho Falls farmer and the Nampa man who ran as a Democrat for the U.S. House in 2020 will lead Idaho offices for two agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The White House on Thursday announced those and other regional appointments for the USDA and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
President Biden appointed Rudy Soto of Nampa as USDA State Executive Director for Rural Development in Idaho, and Matt Gellings of Idaho Falls as USDA State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency.
Soto is the son of a farmworker and a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, according to his biography published in a White House news release. As the Democratic candidate for Idaho’s First Congressional District in 2020, Soto embarked on an RV tour of every county in the district that includes western and northern Idaho. Soto received about 131,000 votes in the general election, and was defeated by incumbent Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho).
Soto’s professional background includes service in the Army National Guard and work in the fields of economic development, public health, conservation and child welfare. Soto most recently worked for Western Leaders Network, described as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of local and tribal elected officials across the Interior West focused on protecting public lands, water and air.”
“I look forward to raising my right hand for an oath of office again and working hard for rural Idahoans from all walks of life,” Soto wrote on Twitter after the White House announced his USDA rural development appointment.
Matt Gellings, appointed executive director for the Idaho FSA office, grows alfalfa, wheat, malt barley and potatoes on his farm in eastern Idaho. He also has run a cow-calf operation for 26 years. He has served on the Farm Service Agency State Committee for the past 12 years.
“From county, state and national boards, Gellings has always wanted to serve the Idaho farmer/rancher community,” his bio on the White House news release states.
The Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs in each U.S. state.
The aim of the USDA’s Rural Development mission is to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. State offices offer grants, loans and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services.
President Biden’s HUD appointment for the regional administrator overseeing Idaho, Alaska, Oregon and Washington is Margaret Salazar, who currently serves in the cabinet of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and is executive director of Oregon Housing Community Services.
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