JACKSON – He thought it was a scam telemarketing call at first. Why would the “White House” be calling him?
But Barry Calogero picked up the phone anyway.
And now he’s the state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
The Jackson Township councilman just spent a week in the nation’s capital receiving briefings and training on his new directorship, and was sworn in by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“The most inspiring message from the week of training was when Secretary Perdue shared his mission statement with us: “Always do right, and help feed everyone.” He is truly a great leader and I look forward to working with him,” Calogero said.
Calogero will oversee a staff of 48 out of the Hamilton office. He is responsible for six other county offices throughout the state.
“These state directors will help ensure that the USDA is offering the best customer service to our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers across the country,” Secretary Perdue said in a Nov. 3 statement. Appointees were permitted to speak with the press Dec. 10. “FSA and (rural development) both play a critical role in helping the people of agriculture, and are able to connect with people in their home states. They are the initial points of contact for millions of our USDA customers. Our goal is to help rural America prosper, and these state leaders will be of great assistance in that task.”
Calogero knew he was being considered for the directorship. After submitting his resume and a pile of other paperwork, he continued through the vetting process, which included answering those calls from the White House.
“Then came the call informing me I was selected to fill the position and asking me to serve as a member of the Executive branch of the Federal government at the pleasure of President Donald J. Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue,” Calogero said. “Not the type of call you get too many times in a lifetime… I was thrilled, overwhelmed and extremely proud and immediately accepted the opportunity. I was told my 30-plus year career which included executive management responsibilities for large numbers of staff globally was a leading contributor to my appointment.”
He most recently served as operations manager for Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union. Calogero has also worked for the ConvergEx Group, HSBC Securities Inc., and Baring Securities.
In addition to overseeing a sizeable staff, Calogero said other responsibilities include not only representing the secretary of agriculture, but working with state and county committee members to administer FSA programs; managing federal and county staff levels; managing state budget allotments; overseeing all personnel operations in New Jersey; directing outreach, public affairs, and intergovernmental relations activities; and coordinating and communicating with community groups and other agricultural stakeholders.
According to the State’s FSA website, New Jersey agriculture industry adds $987 million to the state’s economy. Sixteen percent of the state’s land is dedicated to agriculture, with more than 100 crops produced annually.