Carla Harper is the new county executive director at the Farm Services Agency in Princeton.
"I was excited to take on this new role," said Harper, a Princeton native. "The training process for this position involved being sent all over the state for six months to a year and you're not sure where you'll end up by the end of it. I was very happy to be able to come back home."
The FSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs, according to fsa.usda.gov. Kentucky's state office is located in Lexington, and county service centers are in 64 commonwealth communities.
The Princeton office oversees both Caldwell and Lyon counties, where more than 160,000 acres are dedicated to farming, according to the 2017 Census. The main crops in the area are corn, soybeans, wheat, tobacco and pasture/hay.
Last year, FSA distributed roughly $8.8 million to ag producers in Caldwell and Lyon counties.
"There are several dollars that came out of our office," Harper said. "When we put that money back into the community, it just keeps going."
Harper, 37, graduated from Murray State in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture science and again in 2006 with her master's degree.
"I started out working as an extension agent for the University of Kentucky in Carlisle County for ag," she said. "Then I had the opportunity to apply for a program technician position in Carlisle County with the Farm Services Agency there."
"I feel like my background with extension has helped me because my whole career I've worked with ag producers and I feel like I'm helping people."
Before she took over the local FSA's management, Marty Haley, of Marshall County, was the acting county executive director in Princeton for two and a half years.
When Harper heard the agency in Princeton had been going without a full-time director, she decided to go for the position.
"I had family encouragement to apply and I just went forward with it and ended up here," Harper said. "… I hope to give our programs more outreach to make people in the community aware of what we have to offer."
"If there is anything that I can ever help someone do or offer information on, I'm more than willing to be of assistance."