New USDA Iowa Rural Development Director Theresa Greenfield traveled to Albia Dec. 14 to meet with local office staff.
Greenfield was named the new state director by the Biden administration on Nov. 29 and has visited all USDA field offices in the state since then.
Greenfield said she was delighted and honored to take on her new position and that it aligned with her priorities.
“I grew up outside of a small town of 500 and really have a passion for rural areas and have worked in community planning, economic development and have a huge commitment to the public service, so I’m thrilled to be the state director of rural development for USDA,” said Greenfield.
Greenfield said last year that Iowa Rural Development delivered about $700 million worth of projects in the state.
“The mission and the work they do is to provide loans and grants to rural communities to help them get things done,” Greenfield said. “We want to continue to support communities in whatever they need.” Greenfield said she urges communities to contact Rural Development about their needs to see if USDA can help.
The USDA is currently focused on bringing broadband to rural communities as well as investing in the food supply chain through a recently announced program.
“This [program] focuses on loan guarantees…but that’s for the middle of the supply chain, not the growers and not the grocery store,” Greenfield said. “And in Iowa, one of the places where those dollars could be really useful would be meat processing. There’s a whole bunch of communities where you have to drive 20 miles to get to a butcher.
Greenfield said the program could help start new small businesses focused on meat processing and expand existing businesses. Greenfield also highlighted the recently announced Biofuel Producers Program, which will provide $800 million to biofuel producers, including $700 million in direct payments to producers.
“These are payments that have been authorized under the CARES Act and these are payments to help offset some of these losses due to the pandemic,” Greenfield said.
Greenfield said the Biden administration has prioritized rural America.
“Rural areas need to be improved and this … initiative is something that we’re going to see rural America benefit from and I’m really proud to be here to make that happen,” Greenfield said.