Jasper Schneider announced today that he will be stepping down from USDA on April 19, 2015, after serving five and a half years in office. Schneider was appointed by the President on September 30, 2009 as USDA Rural Development State Director in North Dakota and on October 1, 2014, was named acting Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service based in Washington, DC.
“Jasper’s commitment and leadership has resulted in advancements that have improved the lives of North Dakotans and supported new economic opportunities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “His hard work will be missed, but his impact will endure.”
Schneider began his USDA service during a time of historic growth in North Dakota. In his capacity as State Director, Schneider utilized Rural Development’s three federal agencies to deliver $3 billion of investments over a 5-year period. Those financial resources helped North Dakota meet the demands of population and industry growth. According to an editorial by The Forum, “The federal dollars have been put to good use in the state.” and further stated that Schneider and USDA staff “have done an excellent job, not only in accomplishing the agency’s mandate, but also in letting North Dakotans know about USDA’s good work.” A federal program that works, August 21, 2011.
Substantial resources were deployed through USDA for essential community facilities, affordable housing, business development and utility services. Based on Schneider’s priorities, investments in North Dakota were focused on the following:
- The Bakken: $750 million invested to support the 19 oil and gas producing counties. This financing has been critical for the region in addressing the demands of rapid growth.
- Healthcare Infrastructure: $169 million invested to build new hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities to provide access to high-quality care and employment opportunities.
- Housing: $341 million invested to provide affordable housing and rental opportunities to attract and retain a workforce.
- Broadband: $294 million invested to build-out broadband infrastructure. As a result, North Dakota has more square miles of fiber networks than any other state in the country.
- Tribal: $240 million invested in tribal communities to assist tribal nations with their growing infrastructure needs and help empower their institutions of higher learning.
“Through many strategic investments, we have kept pace with the demands of growth during this special time in North Dakota’s history, while laying the foundation for long-term economic success,” said Schneider. “It takes a team to build a state and I will be forever grateful for working alongside our impressive USDA staff and many dedicated partners.”
In addition to providing financial investments, Schneider also recognized the need to plan for the future. In that spirit, Schneider launched the statewide planning initiative, North Dakota 2.0, in the fall of 2011. During 14 regional meetings, eight recommendations emerged for investing in the future. With analysis provided by North Dakota State University and the support of 12 sponsors, the ND 2.0 report was developed as a guide and resource for building a better North Dakota.
Schneider’s work to improve communities in North Dakota was also recognized at the national level. In May 2014, he was selected by USDA Under Secretary, Doug O’Brien, to establish the department’s nationwide Community Economic Development (CED) initiative. Under Schneider’s leadership, USDA has focused on proactively engaging partners and communities to build capacity for change at the local level.
In October 2014, Schneider was appointed as acting Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). In this role, Schneider oversaw a $60 billion loan portfolio and managed the national utility programs. RUS is charged with providing public utilities such as electricity, telephone, broadband and water systems.
“Being at the helm of a federal agency and working across the country has been a tremendous honor,” said Schneider. “However, I’m looking forward to being home and spending more time with family.”
Prior to joining USDA, Schneider served in the state House of Representatives, had a Fargo law practice and owned an online technology company. He is a graduate of the University of Jamestown and the Hamline University School of Law.
Bill Davis, will serve as the acting State Director in the interim. Schneider will return to the private sector in North Dakota.