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February 6th, Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture

Posted on Feb 4, 2020

LEXINGTON, KY – The Rotary Club of Lexington will hold its weekly meeting Thursday, Feb. 6th,  at the Red Mile, 1200 Red Mile Road. The program’s guest speaker is Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

The trade tariff war with China has negatively affected soybean growers.  Former tobacco growers who rushed to convert to hemp production face a glut in the market.  And animal rights activists and some nutritionists push to limit livestock production, arguing for the adoption plant-based diets.  It’s not easy being a farmer these days or an investor in commodities markets.   Our speaker this week is Dr. Ryan F. Quarles, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture, who will address some of these issues as they impact Kentucky.

First elected to that position in 2015, he was re-elected in 2019, winning 117 of 120 counties. Under his leadership, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) started several new programs, including initiatives to combat hunger and connect Kentucky farmers to new markets. Because of the Department’s Kentucky Hunger Initiative, the Commonwealth now has the strongest legal protections for food donors in the nation. Dr. Quarles’ leadership on international trade issues saw the reopening of racehorse exports to China, a trade action that benefits all sectors of Kentucky’s agricultural economy. Dr. Quarles has also been a leader in helping diversify Kentucky’s agricultural portfolio to include hemp and hops.

Dr. Quarles’s outspoken advocacy for farmers has been recognized on the regional and national level. He serves as vice president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA). He previously served as chairman of the Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee (RACC).

Dr. Quarles graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with three undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees. In 2008, he was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University and graduated with a master’s degree in higher education. He returned to Kentucky in 2010 to complete his legal education at the University of Kentucky. Quarles received his doctorate in higher education from Vanderbilt University in 2018.

From 2010 to 2014, Dr. Quarles represented Scott, Owen, and Fayette counties as a member of the House of Representatives in the Kentucky General Assembly. He grew up on his family’s farm in Scott County. His family has lived and farmed in central Kentucky for more than 200 years.



For additional information, or to attend this meeting, please contact Peggy Trafton at 

401 West Main Street • Suite 305 • Lexington, KY 40507 • (859) 389-8100

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