New Montana Director of the Department of Agriculture Announced




Governor Steve Bullock today announced new appointments to his Cabinet that included the new Director of the Department of Agriculture, Ben Thomas.  



According to the press release, Ben Thomas has served in several departments within the US Department of Agriculture throughout his career most recently serving as the Deputy Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  He received his undergraduate degree from Austin College and went on to earn a Juris Doctorate at Washington University School of Law and a Masters of Laws from the University of Arkansas School of Law in food and agricultural law. 

He served as legislative aide and counsel for Senator Max Baucus, where he played a lead role in developing the Farm Bill.  Ben was raised on his family’s farm which is still in production today.


Thomas replaces former director Ron de Yong, who also was agriculture director under former Gov. Brian Schweitzer.


Ben Thomas's USDA Biography:

Ben Thomas most recently served as Deputy Under Secretary for the Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mission Area at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he helps oversee the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. Prior to that position, he served as the Chief of Staff for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Mission Area, which encompasses the Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, and Risk Management Agency. In that role, he oversaw the department's international activities and worked to implement provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Before joining the USDA, Ben served as Legislative Assistant and Counsel to two Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, helping write the 2014 Farm Bill. He also provided counsel on trade, telecommunications, nutrition, the environment, rural development, and more. Prior to his Senate experience, Ben served in various policy positions at the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency, and as a Law Clerk to the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

Ben graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received his Juris Doctor from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and his LL.M in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Ben was raised on a cotton and peanut farm near Morton, Texas, where his family still farms.


Other appointments Governor Steve Bullock announced today included:

·         Martha Williams as Director of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks;

·         Ken Fichtler as the Chief Business Development Officer;

·         Patrick Holmes as the Governor’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor;

·         Tim Baker appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council;

·         Jennifer Anders reappointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council;

·         Jessica Rhoades as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor;

·         Ronja Abel as the Governor’s Director of Communications 


Source:  Governor’s Office Director of Communications



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