Rhiannon Hampson has been appointed Maine director of the US Department of Agriculture’s rural development program, replacing Timothy Hobbs, who served as director of state under the Trump administration.
Courtesy / USDA
Rhiannon Hampson is USDA’s new State Director for Rural Development.
Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for Americans in rural areas. Rural Development typically invests around $ 400 million in Maine each year through its housing, business, and community programs.
The aid supports the improvement of infrastructure, business development, housing, community facilities such as schools, public health and the development of high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas.
Hampson told Mainebiz she wants to raise awareness of what rural development does, with financing, investing and advocating for rural residents being its mandates.
“We’re not the first thing that comes to people’s minds. And we want to change that. When you see fire stations or community centers, all of these were built with rural development dollars, ”Hampson said. “We want to raise awareness of what rural development does and can do.
“I grew up as a poor kid in Maine. I want to help people in the most rural pockets and find out what they need. I want to bring the needs of Maine to DC and bring the USDA to the Mainers. “
Hampson, who has lived in rural towns like Alna, Machias, Trescott and now Thomaston, said she wanted to extend the benefits of rural development to pockets of Maine and to economically disadvantaged people who might otherwise not be aware of the agency.
“There are people who may not know how to take advantage of these programs. It’s my job to reach them and help improve the quality of life for all rural people, ”she said.
Maine faces a “trifecta” of opportunities that she hopes to move forward, she believes.
“We have these vast natural resources that we have managed so well. We have this unique workforce with the inherent Yankee work ethic that when the going gets tough, we work harder. And we have the historic investment by the Biden-Harris administration in infrastructure. Maine has the ability to deploy these resources, ”Hampson said.
Its goals encompass a wide range of issues, from affordable housing and labor shortages and keeping farms running, to helping lobster processors and helping people in rural areas manage. climate change.
“We are watching the climate crisis come to us. We can see it as if we are falling off a cliff or we can see it as a chance to grab an opportunity, ”Hampson said.
She most recently served as the District Representative for Agriculture and Environmental Issues in the Office of US Representative Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, 1st District.
In this role, Hampson said he deepened his knowledge of Maine’s heritage industries and observed firsthand how USDA is helping rural communities.
A member of a multigenerational military family, Hampson previously worked in social work for adults with developmental disabilities. She graduated from the University of Maine at Machias, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Community Studies.
Prior to Hampson, Tommy Higgins had served as Acting Director of State for nearly a year. He remains with the agency as an associate company director.