A funeral service will be held May 29 in South Dakota for Dallas Tonsager who died May 21 of lymphoma in Falls Church, Virginia. He was 64.
Visitation is 5-8 p.m. May 28 at the gymnasium in Oldham, S.D. The funeral service is 10:30 a.m. May 29, also at the gymnasium.
Tonsager was appointed to the Farm Credit Administration board by President Barack Obama on March 13, 2015. On Nov. 22, 2016, Obama designated him chairman and CEO of the FCA board.
Prior to joining the Farm Credit Administration board, Tonsager served as USDA under secretary for rural development from 2009 to 2013. In this position, he expanded broadband communication in rural America and implemented other key elements of the Recovery Act for rural America. He dramatically expanded USDA's water and wastewater programs, expanded funding for first- and second-generation biofuels, and funded hospitals and other public facilities in rural America. He also worked with the Farm Credit System and others to set up new venture capital investment funds.
From 2010 to 2013, Tonsager was a member of the Commodity Credit Corporation board of directors. From 2004 to 2009, he served as a member of the FCA board, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation.
Before this, Chairman Tonsager served for two years as executive director of the South Dakota Value-Added Agriculture Development Center. In this position, he coordinated initiatives to better serve producers interested in developing value-added agricultural projects.
In 1993, he was selected by President Bill Clinton to serve as USDA's state director for rural development in South Dakota. His term ended in February 2001.
A longtime member of the South Dakota Farmers Union, Tonsager served two terms as president of the organization from 1988 to 1993. During that same period, he was a board member of Green Thumb Inc., a nationwide job training program for senior citizens. In addition, he served on the board of National Farmers Union Insurance from 1989 to 1993, and he was a member of the advisory board of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1990 to 1993.
Tonsager grew up on a dairy farm near Oldham, South Dakota. For many years, he and his older brother, Doug, owned Plainview Farm in Oldham, a family farm on which they raised corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. He earned a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University in 1976.
“Dallas dedicated his life to helping farmers, ranchers, and other rural Americans,” said FCA Board Member Jeff Hall, who was designated CEO on May 20. “Both at USDA and FCA, he worked hard to promote investments in rural communities. As chairman of FCA, he urged the Farm Credit System to work with borrowers experiencing stress as a result of the current downturn in the farm economy. He was also a fine colleague and friend. His passing is a great loss to agriculture and rural America and a personal loss to everyone who knew him.”
“Dallas’ commitment to agriculture and rural America has been an inspiration,” said FCA board member Glen Smith. “I am grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve with him these past 17 months.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, issued a joint statement offering their condolences to the family.
“Dallas spent his career fighting on behalf of farmers and ranchers in his native South Dakota, and across the country,” Peterson said. “He worked especially hard to ensure the success of the biofuels industry, as well as highlighting the healthcare and broadband needs of rural America. His leadership and dedication to rural communities will be greatly missed.”
“Production agriculture and rural America are better off due to the hard work of Dallas Tonsager, and I was saddened to hear of his untimely passing,” said Conaway.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon; his son Keith and daughter-in-law, Lindsey; his son Josh; his granddaughter, Ilia; brothers and sisters-in-law, Dennis and Sharon and Doug and Sandy; sister and brother-in-law, Dianne and Jerry Brei, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A memorial service will be held in Washington, D.C., at a later date.