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ND FSA leader steps down

REGENT, N.D. -- For the past eight years, Aaron Krauter has said he has "the best job in agriculture in North Dakota." After Jan. 20, he'll be saying, "I used to have the best job in agriculture in North Dakota."...

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Agweek

REGENT, N.D. - For the past eight years, Aaron Krauter has said he has “the best job in agriculture in North Dakota.” After Jan. 20, he’ll be saying, “I used to have the best job in agriculture in North Dakota.”

That’s Krauter’s last day as North Dakota executive director of the Farm Service Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The farmer and former Democratic state legislator from Regent, N.D., had led the North Dakota FSA since 2009. President Obama, who leaves office Jan. 20, picked him for the job, which is filled by political appointment. The Trump administration will select Krauter’s replacement.

“I knew going in this would be a four- or eight-year job,” depending on whether Obama would be reelected (or another Democrat elected) in 2012, Krauter says.

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Brian Haugen, a veteran state program specialist with North Dakota FSA and a former county FSA executive director, will serve as acting state executive director until Krauter’s replacement. It’s customary for an experienced state FSA career staffer to hold the top post temporarily during a political transition, Krauter says.

It’s unclear when a new executive director will be appointed. Trump hadn’t named his pick to be U.S. Agriculture Secretary when Krauter talked with Agweek. But Trump later selected Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor, for the post, beginning the process. 

 

The next step will be selection of deputy ag secretaries, then ag undersecretaries, then administrators of USDA agencies (including FSA), and state-level positions such as state FSA executive directors.

Many memories If you farm or ranch on the Northern Plains, you almost certainly have had dealings with the FSA. It’s involved in disaster, commodity, conservation and farm loan programs, among many other things.

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During Krauter’s tenure with FSA, the organization played a crucial role in implementing the 2008 and 2014 farm bills, the centerpieces of the federal government ag and food policies. Both farm bills brought many changes, big and small, to farm programs.

His many memories include implementing the 2008 farm bill’s livestock provisions and the 2014 farm bill’s shift away from direct and counter-cyclical payments to the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

The North Dakota FSA’s 2014 farm bill efforts included 350 meetings with farmers across the state, working in conjunction with  the North Dakota State University Extension and local FSA offices.

Changes in conservation efforts, including declining acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program, also were important, Krauter says.

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So were FSA’s efforts in farm loans, including ones to beginning farmers. “It’s pretty heartwarming when you can help a young farm family get started,” he says.

He’s also proud that North Dakota FSA has used technology to offset reduced funding.

North Dakota raises an unusually large number of crops, reflecting its climate and growing conditions. So North Dakota FSA employees need to understand more programs and program provisions that their counterparts in many other states, Krauter says.

“I’ve been so fortunate so have some of these whiz-kid staff members,” he says. “They’re here at 6:30 in the morning, figuring things out.”

Krauter, who describes himself as “a young 60,” isn’t sure yet of his future plans. But he intends to remain in agriculture, including continued involvement in his farm operation at Regent.

And he’s certain that the past eight years - “in the best job in agriculture in North Dakota” - were well spent.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” he says.


Aaron Krauter
Aaron Krauter

Aaron Krauter
Aaron Krauter

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
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