Leonard M. Blackham, Commissioner, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
Leonard M. Blackham was appointed commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in 2005, becoming the state's 6th Commissioner since Utah adopted the single commissioner structure. Created in 1921, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is one of the oldest State 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. One important program is the Utah Grazing Improvement Program, which works to improve our rangeland and watersheds. In the area of food safety, the Department 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 (which represent 14 percent of Utah's economy). The Department also protects animal health and the State's $1 billion livestock industry as well as guards against invasive plant and insect species.
Prior to his appointment to the UDAF, Blackham served in the Utah Senate for 12 years, where he was the Senate Budget Chairman, majority whip and majority leader. He chaired commissions, committees and taskforces on water, energy, agriculture, wildlife, mental health and the legislative process. Blackham is a past president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and works on the national level to balance federal environmental policy with practical applications on farms and ranches. Prior to his service in the Senate, Blackham was elected to the Sanpete County Commission where he was chairman of the Utah Association of County Commissioners. He has been associated with the Utah Farm Bureau Federation where he has served on state and national poultry advisory boards, as well as county boards and many special taskforces. Blackham is the recipient of several awards including: Utah State University College of Agriculture Distinguished Service Award, Utah Association of Conservation District's President's Award, Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver and the Utah Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture Award.
Blackham is a Utah State University Aggie and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Economics. He also earned an Associate Degree from Snow College and graduated from North Sanpete High School.
Blackham and his wife have six children and eleven grandchildren. He is the proud son of a turkey producer and the grandson of a crop farmer and sheep rancher. In his youth he participated in 4-H and FFA.