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Utah agriculture commissioner to retire in January

First Published      Last Updated Nov 05 2013 12:40 pm

Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, Leonard M. Blackham, will retire in early January, following 25 years in public service.

Blackham was appointed Commissioner in 2005, after serving 12 years in the Utah State Senate and four years as a Sanpete County Commissioner.

"There is no one who represents Utah agriculture with more energy or heart, and very few know rural Utah as well as Leonard," Gov. Gary R. Herbert said in a news release issued Monday. "His enthusiasm will be missed."

During his tenure, Blackham helped initiate several timely programs including a grazing improvement program, the War on Weeds and the eradication of the highly destructive Japanese beetle in Utah County. Most recently, Blackham chaired the Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Steering Committee.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food oversees dozens of programs including inspections at retail outlets and food processing plants, protecting the $1 billion livestock industry and guarding against invasive plant and insect species.