OLYMPIA - Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside was today appointed to serve as the director for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Gregoire announced the appointment Friday morning in a press conference at the state capitol.
"I am honored that Dan has accepted this position," Gregoire said of the Republican state legislator. "As a farmer and state legislator, Dan brings a wealth of experience to the Department of Agriculture and understands the important role agriculture plays in our state's economy, culture and our future."
Newhouse is a graduate of Washington State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture economics and completed an agriculture and forestry leadership program.
He currently operates a 600-acre farm in the Sunnyside area, where he grows hops, tree fruits, grapes and alfalfa.
Currently serving his fourth term as a state representative, Newhouse is a past county board member and county president of the Washington State Farm Bureau. Newhouse has also served as president of the Hop Growers of Washington and the Hop Growers of America.
"I am excited about this opportunity to bring a farmer's perspective to this agency, as well as a diverse point of view to the governor's cabinet," Newhouse said. "My commitment is to do what I can to ensure that we, as a state, provide an opportunity for agriculture to be a successful industry."
Gregoire said she's looking to Newhouse to expand Washington's agricultural reach.
"I'm looking forward to his success in maintaining and expanding markets, protecting the quality and outstanding reputation of our agricultural products and ensuring our agriculture families and businesses remain profitable and productive."
Gregoire has directed Newhouse to focus on developing strategies to expand international markets for the state's agricultural products. The governor has also asked Newhouse to work with the state's Department of Ecology to identify new water sources for eastern Washington communities, farmers and fish.
Newhouse was also praised by Valoria Loveland, former Agriculture director.
"He is familiar with the legislative process and very aware of the issues our state's famers, producers and processors face, and is a perfect choice to lead the department."
Those working in the agricultural community also praised the Governor's appointment.
"To have Dan selected from the field of highly qualified candidates for this position is a great honor, and strongly illustrates our governor's commitment to agriculture and rural Washington," said Ann George, administrator of the Washington Hop Commission.
Washington's Department of Agriculture is charged with assuring the safety of the state's food supply, as well as ensuring the safe and legal use and disposal of pesticides and fertilizers.
In his new post, Newhouse will also oversee the department's role protecting the state's natural resources and facilitating the movement of Washington's agriculture products in domestic and international markets.
Newhouse lives with his wife Carol and their two children, Jensena and Devon, on their family farm. His appointment takes effect Wednesday, Feb. 18. He will be paid an annual salary of $122,478.
The move will require Newhouse to step down from his legislative position.
Local Republican party officials will nominate three people to fill Newhouse's post, with Yakima County commissioners making the final selection.