SPENCER, South Dakota — Whether it’s working on her century-old farm, helping Pine Ridge tribal authorities with farm grants, or helping manage South Dakota Democratic Party funds, Marcia Bunger did everything. Now she will take on a new challenge: becoming an administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.
The Risk Management Agency, established in 1996, largely oversees and enforces the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which provides farmers and agricultural organizations and entities across the country with crop insurance protection.
“I am honored to be appointed as the Administrator of the USDA Risk Management Agency for the Biden Administration,” Bunger said in a press release. In an interview with the Mitchell Republic, she called her nomination “surreal.”
As head of the agency, Bunger is responsible for ensuring compliance with all RMA and FCIC related programs.
“The Administrator oversees all crop insurance rules and regulations. They also help introduce new products after they’ve been researched,” Bunger said. “You have to make sure that (licensed insurers) play by the rules because a lot of the crop insurance program is funded by the federal government.”
One of the priorities of the Biden administration, according to Bunger, is to identify historically underserved populations – such as African-American communities in the Southeastern United States and tribal communities in South Dakota – so that they can learn more about RMA programs to integrate them into their farms.
Bunger’s lengthy resume offers a wide variety of experiences that qualify her for such a position.
While working with her husband on their century-old farm, Bunger spent more than 25 years with the Farm Service Agency, including 18 years as County Executive Director, where she worked closely with government leaders and staff. Pine Ridge Tribal to administer FSA programs. She has also worked as a crop insurance specialist and crop insurance agent and spent 15 years on the South Dakota Advisory Council to the US Civil Rights Commission.
“It was a building process to get to where I am today,” Bunger said. “It really gave me the warmth and fuzziness that it’s not about who you know, it’s about what you know.”
Until she was sworn into the RMA on Monday, she served as co-treasurer of the South Dakota Democratic Party, prompting party chairman Randy Seiler to issue a statement.
“I am thrilled that the Biden administration has appointed a South Dakotan to such an important position,” Seiler said, congratulating her. “I know she will do a great job for the Biden administration.”
Although it is unclear if Bunger is the first South Dakota to hold this position, she is the first Asian-American woman to do so.
Zach Ducheneaux, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, has been the USDA’s Agricultural Services Agency — a separate branch of the RMA — since February.
Bunger was sworn in via Zoom from his home in Spencer on Monday, and has already begun serving as the RMA’s administrator. She resigned from her position in the state Democratic Party.