FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles was elected president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Thursday at its annual meeting.
“I am grateful to my counterparts in the other states for selecting me to serve as president of NASDA,” Quarles said. “2020 has been a challenging year for all industries, but especially our agriculture sector. In this role, I will focus on expanding international trade, reducing food insecurity, and building partnerships to support farmer-veterans and limited resource producers. As Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, I will always have the interest of our Kentucky farm families at heart while leading NASDA.”
Quarles is the first Kentucky agriculture commissioner to be elected president or hold office in NASDA since Billy Ray Smith, who served as president of the national organization in 2001-2002. Quarles previously served as vice-president, second vice president, and secretary-treasurer of NASDA. Last year, he was also elected 2019-2020 president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA), a regional offshoot of NASDA.
“Under my leadership, NASDA will be doubling down on agriculture’s tradition of innovation and resilience,” Quarles said. “Armed with a new strategic plan, and a call to action for federal officials, NASDA will rise to the challenge of redefining agriculture for our farm families in these unprecedented times.”
First elected Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner in November 2015, Quarles was re-elected in November 2019, winning 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Under his leadership, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) started several new programs, including initiatives to combat hunger and connect Kentucky farmers to new markets.
Because of the Department’s Kentucky Hunger Initiative, the Commonwealth now has the strongest legal protections for food donors in the nation. Quarles’ leadership on international trade issues saw the reopening of racehorse exports to China, a trade action that benefits all sectors of Kentucky’s agricultural economy.
From 2010-14, Quarles represented Scott, Owen, and Fayette counties as a member of the House of Representatives in the Kentucky General Assembly.
Quarles grew up on his family’s farm in Scott County. His family has lived and farmed in central Kentucky for more than 200 years.
To watch a video of Quarles thanking NASDA members for their support and his invitation to them for NASDA’s 2021 Annual Conference in Kentucky, click here.
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association that represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. To learn more about NASDA, visit nasda.org.