Farmers and ranchers visiting the United States Consolidated Farm Service Agency office in Rugby will miss a familiar face when longtime employee Cheryl Anderson retires at the end of December.
“She’s been with us for about 45 years and we’re going to miss her,” said the agency’s Gary Kraft. “Throughout her career, her driving force was serving our customers. FSA staff and producers alike are well aware of the quality and volume of her work, her integrity, her professionalism, her leadership, her focus, and her dedication,” he added.
Anderson said via email she was set to retire “after 44 years, 5 months and 15 days.” Anderson said there would be plenty about her career that she’d miss as well.
Anderson said she would miss “the social interactions with my co-workers and our producers. I took pride in knowing of our producers by name and them knowing who I was, and them being comfortable enough with me to take time for discussions beyond just work-related things. While the job at hand was always the first priority, I will truly miss the day-to-day exchanges with our producers. Another thing I cherish is the fact that many of our current producers are the grandsons or granddaughters of the producers I began working with all those years ago.”
Anderson added she would miss “the challenges” of her job at USDA. As any federal government employee knows, challenges usually take the form of new laws and regulations, sometimes pages and pages of them. Anderson joined the Rugby Farm Service Agency during the Carter Administration in 1977. “The rules and regulations are constantly changing and evolving. About the time that you think you had everything figured out, a rule would change, or an interpretation of something would change, and you would start over with that project,” Anderson said.
“Our job revolves around the current Farm Bill which usually run for 4-5 years, meaning that I have endured and outlasted around ten Farm Bills, 8 presidential administrations with as many FSA State Directors, and at least 7 County Directors,” Anderson added.
Anderson said she also enjoyed helping out other counties in need and training new employees for Pierce and other counties in North Dakota.
“Earlier in my career, I was selected to be a (software technician), which resulted in a number of trips to Washington, D.C., to help test computer software for new programs. Another time, I was detailed to Alaska for three weeks to help enroll salmon fishermen in a price loss assistance program.”
“While those experiences were all memorable and very rewarding, the most memorable and unforgettable for me was my last two trips to Washington D.C., both in 2019,” she added.
Anderson took her first trip to the nation’s capital “to accept the 2019 Under Secretary’s Award for Extraordinary Service and Dedication to the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Mission Area,” she said.
“This award was given to the entire Pierce County office, including the Pierce County Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), for an extraordinary level of cooperation between the two agencies during a time of need, which was on a level that was recognized by our national office.”
Anderson’s second trip to D.C. “was to accept the 2019 Administrators Award for Service to Agriculture,” she said. “The Administrator’s Award is the highest honor you can receive in all of FSA.”
Anderson said she would also remember assisting producers in agriculture through times when “our producers were suffering because of horrible droughts, summer and winter storms, and at times of low commodity prices, and we were able to be there to help.”
Those times were “maybe not the most memorable of times, because they were times of extreme stress, but when we could help with disaster payments and price support payments to help with the low prices, they were certainly among the most satisfying,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she would fill her retirement years with traveling and family time.
“With kids and now grandchildren, both in state and out of state, we try to make the most out of every opportunity to see them, whether it is a basketball game, a birthday party, or just because,” Anderson said. “We will also be able to enjoy spending more and longer periods of time at our camper at the lake. So yes, there will be a lot of traveling being done once I retire.”