U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced the resignation, effective Dec. 1, 2008, of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas C. Dorr.
"Tom Dorr has been a transformational leader for USDA Rural Development," Schafer said. "As the transition to a new Administration continues in the months ahead, senior leaders will be moving on, but Under Secretary Dorr's contributions to USDA and rural America will be felt for many years to come."
A native of Marcus, Iowa, Tom Dorr joined USDA in 2001, serving as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development and Senior Advisor to the Secretary. He was appointed in December 2005 by then-Secretary Mike Johanns to chair the USDA Energy Council and served as co-chair of the Federal Biomass Research and Development Board.
While at USDA, Under Secretary Dorr also attacked a decades-old issue of how to mitigate the loss of minority-owned farm land. He also led the effort to revitalize USDA Rural Development's Multi-Family Housing Program and to successfully resolve longstanding litigation which threatened the program with potentially billions of dollars in losses.
He led USDA's path breaking rural broadband program launch (authorized initially in 2002) which is essential to ensuring universal access to affordable broadband even in low-density rural areas, and he instigated an ongoing initiative to enhance USDA Rural Development's marketing and outreach efforts and streamline office structure and program delivery systems.
Prior to joining USDA, Dorr managed a family farming and agribusiness holding company in northwest Iowa, served on the Board of Directors of the 7th District Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, was a member of the Iowa Board of Regents overseeing the state university system, and was active in many state, local, and national farm and community development organizations.
"Rural America is changing, and Tom Dorr recognized eight years ago that USDA Rural Development must change with it to meet new challenges and opportunities," Schafer said. "Thanks to his vision and leadership, USDA Rural Development is a stronger, streamlined, modernized, and effective agency positioned to continue its long tradition of service to rural America."