SALT LAKE CITY — Randy Parker, who has long fought in political circles on behalf of farmers, ranchers and rural interests in Utah and across the country, was named by the Trump administration as the new state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development in Utah.
Parker, who will begin his new role Monday, joins a handful of other Utahns named by the Trump administration to serve in leadership roles, including Jon Huntsman Jr., serving as U.S. ambassador to Russia; Greg Sheehan, who is in a new role of acting deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Randal Quarles, of Roy, who has taken a key position on the Federal Reserve board in charge of overseeing the banking system.
Parker's selection comes after a recommendation by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and a round paperwork and interviews with key people before final selection by the White House.
“I look forward to the opportunity and am excited about the trust President Trump and Secretary (Sonny) Perdue place in me,” said Parker, CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau. “Given my background and the work I’ve done with Utah’s agricultural producers, I see a direct need for economic development in our rural communities and support the vision and mission of USDA.”
Of his professional career, Parker worked 14 years of public service with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, serving in various roles to help expand, improve and amplify Utah’s agricultural industry.
He served as president of the North American Agriculture Marketing Officials in 2002-03, sat on the board for the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Association, worked on U.S. agriculture trade talks with Canada and Mexico in 2003, and was reappointed to the Utah District Export Council by the U.S. secretary of commerce.
Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson said Parker's selection will bring benefit to the state's ranchers, farmers and rural communities.
“This is a great honor for Randy to have been selected for this post, and it will give Utah’s farmers and ranchers a great partner when it comes to rural development,” Gibson said. “Randy served the state’s farmers and ranchers well during his 14 years as CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau, and gave his all for this industry."
As state director in his new federal role, Parker will use his leadership experience to oversee rural development programs in a "customer-focused" manner to encourage prosperity in rural Utah, according to a news release.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, business development, homeownership, community services such as schools, public safety and health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas.
In fiscal year 2016, Rural Development spent just under $400 million in Utah on housing-related programs and nearly $13 million on infrastructure projects, including boosting water quality and wastewater treatment systems.
Parker's position to lead the federal agency's efforts in Utah comes even as state leaders are ramping up their efforts to infuse the state's rural economy with a goal of adding 25,000 jobs over four years.
The job growth initiative, which kicked off this summer, includes workshops and trainings in multiple areas of the state. This week, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is attending such events in Uintah and Daggett counties.