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Blackham Announces Retirement

SALT LAKE CITY - 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.

Created in 1921, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is one of the oldest Utah agencies and oversees dozens of legislatively mandated programs that promote the healthy growth of Utah agriculture, conserve our natural resources and protect our food supply. UDAF inspects the State's 4,000 retail outlets and food processing plants for food quality and safety, and correct item pricing. The Department's Utah's Own program works to reconnect consumers with their food supply and promotes the benefits of Utah's locally grown and processed foods. The Department also protects animal health and the State's $1 billion livestock industry as well as guards against invasive plant and insect species.

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