LISBON — A town resident has been appointed by President Joseph R. Biden as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New York state director for rural development.
Brian S. Murray, who has worked for the USDA for two decades, was appointed state director in December.
“State directors are essentially the chief executive officer in the (respective) states. Boots on the ground, every state has one, even U.S. territories,” Mr. Murray said. “The big thing is increasing equity in rural communities … there should not be a community in our state that lacks. My biggest charge is to make sure we reach out to those communities.”
He said some good local examples of the USDA’s rural development programs include on the Akwesasne Mohawk territory, where the rural development program worked with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe on its new administration building, the Diabetes Center for Excellence and other projects involving water, sewer, housing and the senior center.
“That’s just one example of a community. We do the same thing for every community,” Mr. Murray said.
He said the program has also had recent talks with St. Lawrence County about its broadband study and expansion, and with the village of Potsdam on the 150-year-old subterranean canal network that presents a major flooding problem.
“We’re really a partner,” Mr. Murray said. It’s a conversation. We don’t tell them what they need, or don’t need, or whatever. It’s their community. We relay to them how we can support them, whether it’s clean water or sewer systems. We do a lot of work with fire departments, providing needed equipment.”
Mr. Murray, originally from Peterboro, started his career with the USDA started in 2002 as a loan specialist in the Canton office, “working with different programs we have and bringing those to the communities.”
In 2007, he was named a USDA area director and oversaw offices throughout the state, “from the southern (New York state) border to the northern border.”
In 2020, he was named an associate enterprise director, “an assistant state director, if you will.” He was named acting state director during the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations, and was named permanent director at the end of 2021.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be appointed by the Biden administration, President Biden and Vice President (Kamala D.) Harris, for this position,” Mr. Murray said.
In addition to his time with the USDA, he’s also served on the St. Lawrence County Planning Board, and “he is active in his local fire department serving as an interior firefighter and member of the rescue squad,” according to a White House news release announcing Mr. Murray’s appointment.