The Obama administration has announced four Mid-South appointments in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. They are:

Lawrence Edward McCollough, who will serve as Arkansas state director for rural development at the USDA.

“Lawrence McCollough will be an important advocate on behalf of rural communities throughout the state and help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

McCullough has worked for over 38 years with USDA Rural Development in Arkansas. He started with the Farmers Home Administration in Ashdown, Ark., in 1971, and has worked in various positions across the state.

McCullough helped to lead the Arkansas Single Family Housing program as one of the leaders in guarantees and direct loans and grants.

He is retired from the Army reserves, has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Supported Housing, and serves as a member of the Arkansas Weather Policy Advisory Council.

Linda Newkirk will serve as Arkansas state executive director for the Farm Service Agency at the USDA.

“Linda Newkirk has a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our rural communities and will help build on the Obama administration’s efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Vilsack.

Newkirk has 31 years of continuous service and since 1991 has been an agricultural program specialist, assigned to the state executive director for the Farm Service Agency. She has worked in all divisions for the FSA: administrative, price support, conservation and in the state director’s office.

She has also been the Federal Woman’s Program manager.

Newkirk was born and raised in Arkansas and has been involved in farming communities her entire life. She is married to Ray Camp of Little Rock, Ark.

Willie Cooper will serve as Louisiana state executive director for the Farm Service Agency at the USDA.

Willie Cooper has served as the state executive director for the Farm Service Agency/Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service since 1972. In all, he has served over 50 years in numerous capacities with the USDA in the state of Louisiana.

He has worked on Katrina relief and has won numerous awards in his capacity as a USDA employee.

Cooper is a veteran of U.S. Army and graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in agriculture.

USDA’s Farm Services Agency works to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Americans. Some of the agency’s efforts include facilitating income support, disaster assistance and conservation programs, providing operating loans for the procurement of farm equipment, seed and fertilizer, as well as offering ownership loans to help new and veteran producers purchase a farm.

FSA also works to procure various commodities to benefit low-income families through domestic food assistance programs.

Bobby Goode will serve as Tennessee state director for rural development at the USDA.

Goode has been a USDA rural development area director since 2006. Previously, he served as supervisory farm loan manager for the Farm Service Agency from 1995 to 2006.

Goode also served in various roles in the Farmers Home Administration from 1979 to 1995. Goode focused on rural issue and loan development, critical to the rural development position.

In his new position, he will build on his three decades of agricultural experience.

USDA’s rural development program 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 with an existing portfolio of over $114 billion in loans and loan guarantees.