Biden makes appointments to rural Wisconsin policy positions

By: - November 8, 2021 5:00 am
A farmer plants corn into a cover crop of barley. Tractor equipment shown planting

A farmer plants corn into a cover crop of barley. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service)

President Joe Biden appointed two longtime rural Wisconsin experts to positions within the state’s offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday. Advocates for rural parts of the state applauded the appointments as wins for small farmers across the state. 

Biden appointed Eugene Schriefer, a senior outreach specialist with UW-Madison Extension, as Wisconsin state executive director for the Farm Service Agency. Schriefer will oversee and implement USDA policy in Wisconsin. 

Schriefer has worked as an agriculture educator in Iowa County since 2009 and previously worked with Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development. 

Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said Schriefer’s experience working in the state over the last decade will be crucial. 

“Over the past decade, Gene has made significant contributions to the fabric of our agricultural community here in Wisconsin through his work with UW-Extension, grazing networks, and youth,” Von Ruden said in a statement. “His insights and connections across the state will prove invaluable at the Farm Service Agency.”

Biden also appointed former state legislator Julie Lassa as the rural development director for Wisconsin. 

Lassa, who served in the Legislature for 18 years as a member of the Assembly and Senate, also served on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and held positions in local government. 

Rural development state directors lead offices that give grants and loans to spur economic development in their state.

Von Ruden said that Lassa, a Portage County native, will be a champion for small businesses and family farms. 

“With her upbringing on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin and a background in civic engagement and economic development, particularly promoting small business and local food, Julie brings a great deal of experience to the table,” he said. “I’m hopeful she can channel her experiences into revitalizing our communities and building a more resilient rural economy moving forward.”

In a statement, the White House said these appointees will help rebuild communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen local economies.

“These regional appointees will be critical to the President’s efforts to rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change,” it stated. “They bring deep expertise in their issue areas as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal, and local leaders. And, consistent with the President’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of America and the communities they serve.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.