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.
"His open door policy was appreciated by farmers and ranchers statewide," says Stuhlmiller.
In praising his new appointment, Gov. Inslee says Hover's "experience as a rancher and his work on issues from water to wildlife will be invaluable in further growing of this vital (agricultural) industry."
Inslee called the farm agricultural industry "one of Washington's most significant cultural and economic cornerstones"
In leaving the agency, Newhouse made the following statement:
"I came to WSDA four years ago excited about the opportunity to not only lead the agency, but also to help mold the future of the agricultural industry.
"Every day I am amazed by the people at WSDA: their relentless pursuit to do the right thing, to serve industry and to encourage each other."
Newhouse labeled his departure a "bittersweet" event.
"While I am not ready to leave, I am excited at what the future holds," he stated. "I'll be returning to the farm, to Carol and my family but am hopeful that I will be able to continue to be involved in public service in the future."
Hover's appointment comes as the agency celebrates is centennial, an event that was marked on April 11 at the capitol on "Centennial Day."
A WSDA food drive marking the 100th anniversary is set for June 10, and a "Taste Washington Day," Sept. 25, will involve schools, restaurants, retail grocers and families to highlight sale and consumption of the state's farm products by local consumers.
WSDA was founded on June 10, 1913 and today addresses 58 state laws and with 26 programs serving the state's 39,500 farms, the basis of and industry which generates $46 billion year in revenue for Washington.