The State Board of Agriculture appointed Edward Wengryn, a more than 20-year veteran of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, to head the Department of Agriculture, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

“As the grandson of Ukrainian immigrants who settled here in New Jersey as farmers, I am humbled and honored to be able to lead an agency that has been critical to the success of not only my family, but all the farming families in New Jersey,” said Wengryn.

In his new position as agriculture secretary, Wengryn will oversee a $1.5 billion-plus industry that includes farmers, vintners, and pisciculturists, among others.

He replaces Douglas Fisher, who retired as secretary last June after holding the position for 14 years. Joe Atchison III has served as interim secretary of agriculture since that time.

The secretary of agriculture is a unique position among New Jersey’s cabinet members. Unlike most members, who are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, the agriculture secretary is selected by the State Board of Agriculture.

The eight-member board is filled with farmers, in effect giving agronomists a say in the industry’s regulation, and agriculture secretaries have historically served through changes in administrations. Phillip Alampi, the longest-serving agriculture secretary in state history, held the position for 26 consecutive years.

Wengryn, who was a confidential assistant for late Agriculture Secretary Charles Kuperus, would be only the eighth agriculture secretary in state history.

“The Board is confident that Ed will effectively lead both the Department and the agriculture industry in an age where the knowledge and skill set he brings to the table will be invaluable,” said Holly Sytsema, president of the State Board of Agriculture.




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