Gem State Roundup

Biden picks two Idahoans for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regional positions

By: - January 14, 2022 1:17 pm
wheat harvest

In this 2018 file photo, Harvest Ridge Organics harvests wheat on a field near Reservoir A in Lewiston. The agricultural industry in the Lewiston area is now primarily dry-land farming, growing crops like wheat and rapeseed. (Kirsten Strough/Courtesy of the USDA)

President Joe Biden announced in a press release on Thursday his intent to appoint eight U.S. Department of Agriculture regional positions, including two for Idaho.

Matt Gellings is one of five new Farm Service Agency state executive directors proposed by Biden, and Rudy Soto is one of three new people selected to serve as Rural Development state directors.

Gellings has served on Idaho’s FSA State Committee for 12 years. He has served as chairman of the Leadership Idaho Agriculture Board of Trustees, the president of the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame and the president of the Bonneville County Grain Producers Association. A fourth-generation farmer, Gellings produces alfalfa, wheat, malt barley and potatoes at his farm in Idaho Falls. He has also maintained a cattle operation for 26 years, according to the release.

Born and raised in Nampa, Soto is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the son of a farmworker. Most recently, he worked for Western Leaders Network, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization of local and tribal elected officials across the Interior West focused on protecting public lands, water and air. Soto previously served as a legislative staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard and received his bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, according to the release. Soto was the Democratic candidate for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in 2020, losing the election to Rep. Russ Fulcher.

“As we work to build a better America, we need talented and experienced staff working in our state offices,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in the release. “We are thrilled to welcome these dedicated individuals to USDA at such an important time in the Biden-Harris administration.”

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Christina Lords
Christina Lords

Christina Lords is the editor-in-chief of the Idaho Capital Sun and has been a professional journalist covering local and state government since graduating from the University of Idaho in 2009. A Pocatello native, Lords is a fifth-generation Idahoan who served as a reporter at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News and the Post Register in Idaho Falls and served as assistant editor for the Idaho Press in Nampa. She also led the Idaho Statesman in Boise for two years before turning to nonprofit journalism.