Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, Leonard M. Blackham, has announced his intent to retire in early January 2014, following a noteworthy 25-year public service career. Blackham was appointed Commissioner in 2005, after serving 12 years in the Utah State Senate and four years as a Sanpete County Commissioner.
“I applaud Leonard’s devoted service to the State, particularly his leadership on improving rural economies,” Governor Gary R. Herbert said. “There is no one who represents Utah agriculture with more energy or heart, and very few know rural Utah as well as Leonard. His enthusiasm will be missed.”
“I feel extremely fortunate to have served Utah’s agriculture community and worked with some of the most dedicated farmers and ranchers in the state. I am also honored to have led a corps of dedicated and passionate state employees. With the assistance and guidance of Governors Herbert and Huntsman, we have advanced several initiatives to enhance the economy of rural Utah while caring for the environment,” said Blackham.
In the past nine years Commissioner Blackham has initiated various timely programs, including the Grazing Improvement Program to promote sustainable livestock grazing; the Invasive Species Program that launched the War on Weeds; the Agriculture Certification of Environmental Stewardship that acknowledges farmers’ and ranchers’ care for the land; and the eradication of the highly destructive Japanese beetle in Utah County. Most recently, Blackham was tasked by Governor Herbert to chair the Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Steering Committee.