September 24, 2009  

Heather Gray - 404 765 0991

The Federation’s Shirley Sherrod Now Heads USDA's Rural Development in Georgia
Sherrod is the first African American to hold this position in Georgia

Photo: Federation staff Jerry Pennick, Federation staff John Zippert, Federation staff Shirley Sherrod, USDA's Rural Development Director Dallas Tonsager, Federation staff Ralph Paige at the Federation's Annual Meeting in August 2009

ATLANTA, GA.... In July 2009 former Federation staff member Shirley Sherrod was appointed as the USDA Rural Development Georgia State Director. Sherrod had worked with Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund since 1985 as the organization's Director of the Georgia State Office. "We are proud that Shirley has been appointed to this position at Rural Development not just because she is the first African American in Georgia to hold the post, but also because of her vast experience in agriculture and rural development. Now the entire State of Georgia will benefit from her expertise. There is probably no one in the state who understands the challenges faced by rural communities as well as Shirley. In fact, under her leadership and creative initiatives she has been instrumental in vastly increasing opportunities and income for farmers and rural communities" said Ralph Paige executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.

Below are excerpts of the press release issued by the USDA on July 30 announcing her appointment with Rural Development.


WASHINGTON, July 30, 2009- The Obama Administration today continued naming individuals who will serve as State Director for Rural Development at the USDA.

"These individuals will be important advocates on behalf of rural communities in states throughout the country and help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack....

Shirley Sherrod (to serve as USDA Rural Development Georgia State Director) - Since 1985, Sherrod has served as Director of the Georgia Field Office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund. She has also served as Georgia State Lead for the Southern Rural Black Women's' Initiative for Economic and Social Justice. From 1999-2000, Sherrod served as Executive Director for Community Alliances of Interdependent Agriculture, Inc., in Albany, Ga. Sherrod has more than 15 years experience working with agriculture-focused organizations. Sherrod received a B.A. in Sociology from Albany State University in Albany, Ga., and a M.A. in Community Development from Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Rural Development administers and manages over 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of over $114 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Reflecting President Obama's commitment to expanding economic opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA are working to enhance availability of broadband, promote the development of renewable energy, to conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment, and promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply.

For more information about Rural Development and its many programs please go to its website at .

Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 43rd year,  assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.