A shift in Washington State Department of Agriculture under new Governor Jay Inslee has ousted Dan Newhouse as director, replacing him with Okanogan rancher Bud Hover, chairman of the state Salmon Recovery Board.
The change comes with the latest round of Inslee appointments to cabinet chairs.
Hover is well known as a former Okanogan County commissioner, and as the owner of a 2,300-acre hay and cattle operation near Winthrop.
Inslee credited outgoing Newhouse as an adept leader who steered the agency through challenges.
Washington Farm Bureau CEO John Stuhlmiller (cq) expressed disappointment over Newhouse's departure, noting that he had "ably served" the industry for four years under former Gov. Christine Gregoire.
He was the only Republican in the Democratic governor's cabinet.
"We were obviously disappointed since all 54 members of the Ag Summit had signed a letter to Gov. Inslee supporting Newhouse, he says. "It was a unanimous support."
Stuhlmiller worked with Hover on salmon issues over the past decade, and established "a good relationship" he notes.
"He knows agriculture from the perspective of a producer, and that's something not every director of WSDA can say. I think as long as he remembers his roots in agriculture, Bud will be a good director."
Stuhlmiller says the bureau has "no concerns" over Hover's appointment.