"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, Dorr graduated from Morningside College with a B.S. degree in business administration.
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."
Dorr joined USDA in 2001 and was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 to be the Under Secretary for Rural Development. On July 27, 2005, he was sworn into office by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
Rural Development consists of three program areas that provide up to $18 billion annual funding authority for loans, grants, and technical assistance to rural residents, communities, and businesses. Rural Development also holds a $97 billion portfolio of existing business, housing, and infrastructure loans to rural America and is the largest Federal government financier of commercial renewable energy ventures. Rural Development has nearly 6,300 employees located across the United States and in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Western Pacific Trust territories.
As Under Secretary for Rural Development he serves as the Chairman of the USDA Energy Council which is responsible for advancing the President's Energy Initiative. The USDA Energy Council strives to promote the production of domestically grown fuel. Dorr also serves as the Federal Co-Chair of the Biomass Research and Development Board. Dorr's leadership and initiative to create a national renewable energy conference resulted in bringing together nearly 1,500 private and public sector renewable energy interests in October of 2006 and included participation by President Bush, Cabinet members from the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.
He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the 7th District Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Iowa Board of Regents, and as a member and officer of the Iowa and National Corn Growers Associations. As president of a family farming and agribusiness company for 30 years, Dorr has broad agricultural, financial and business experience.