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Ex-Rep. Etheridge to lead NC federal farm office

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Former congressman and state schools superintendent Bob Etheridge is the new executive director of the North Carolina office of the federal agency that oversees some agricultural programs and keeps farmers abreast of other federal initiatives.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Etheridge's new job at North Carolina's Farm Service Agency office, which he began Monday. The Harnett County Democrat served as superintendent for eight years, then as the 2nd District congressman for 14 years through 2010, when he lost to Republican Renee Ellmers. He also ran unsuccessfully for his party's nomination for governor in 2012, finishing second to Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.

Etheridge's career also has included time as a tobacco farmer and two recent positions working in then-Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration — one involving federal stimulus money and the other advising Perdue on the state's response to Hurricane Irene.

Etheridge, 72, succeeds Aaron Martin as state director. There was an interim director for about a year before Etheridge received the presidential appointment.

The Farm Service Agency carries out federal conservation programs and resolves appeals over federal issues with local farmers. Etheridge has been involved in elected politics since the 1970s, first as a county commissioner and a state legislator in the 1980s.

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