Leonard M. Blackham
Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food
Leonard M. Blackham was appointed Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food January 5, 2005 by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., becoming the state's 6th Commissioner since Utah adopted the single commissioner structure. He is the Immediat Past President of NASDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
The Department is one of the oldest state agencies. It employs more than 200 individuals who enforce State law relating to safe food handling, proper agricultural practices and consumer protection. One important program is the Utah Grazing Improvement Program that works to improve rangeland and watersheds for the benefit of all. 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 and AgriAdvocates Programs work to reconnect consumers with their food supply and promote the benefits of locally grown and processed foods.
Prior to his appointment to the UDAF, Leonard was deeply involved in public service. He served in the Utah Senate for 12 years before resigning his seat to accept the appointment as the Commissioner of Agriculture and Food. While serving in the senate, he was in leadership positions for 10 years where he served as Senate Budget Chairman, Majority Whip and Majority Leader. Leonard chaired many commissions, committees, and taskforces on water, energy, agriculture, wildlife, mental health and the legislative process. Leonard has been recognized by many organizations in these related fields.
Prior to his service in the Senate, he was elected to the Sanpete County Commission where he served for four years. Leonard was also elected chairman of the Utah Association of County Commissioners.
Commissioner Blackham grew up and still lives in the small town of Moroni, Utah where he was the 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. His family, church, scouting, and farming have always been the center of his life. He married Laura Bagley and they have six children and eleven grandchildren.
Partnerships are second nature to the commissioner. During his first years in office as the Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food he established new programs to market Utah's Own agriculture products, strengthen the profitability of Utah's ranchers and improve the health of the state's rural landscape. The programs focus on the concept that partnerships generate local involvement and stakeholder participation which ultimately lead to greater overall results.
He took over the family the turkey business in 1970 and expanded the ranch from 30,000 to 360,000 birds per year The Blackham farm markets its turkeys to the Moroni Feed Company, a fully intergraded turkey cooperative that employees more than 800 people and markets its product under the Norbest brand name. The company has three divisions; hatchery, feed mill and processing plants. Moroni Feed processes more than 5 million turkeys a year that are raised by its member farmers. Commissioner Blackham has been a member since 1970 and served as chairman during his many years on the board of directors. Just prior to being named Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, he was the first vice-president and feed division manager for Moroni Feed Company.
Over the years 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. The Utah Farm Bureau has recognized him with the "Friend of Agriculture" award.
Leonard's early service was focused on scouting. He has served many years as scoutmaster to local troops, national jamboree troops and leadership training courses. He was also deeply involved in the Utah Young Farmers Association. He served as the association president and later as an advisor to the Sanpete Chapter for a number of years.
Married to Laura Bagley
Six Children, Tony, Amy, Thomas, Jenny, Michelle, and Jeanette
Bachelor of Science Degree (Agriculture Economics) from Utah State University
Associated Degree from Snow College, Ephraim, Utah
Graduated from North Sanpete High School
FARMING AND BUSINESS
1970 to present – Turkey Farmer
Member of Moroni Feed Company (MFC)
Board Member of MFC (12 years)
Chairman of Board – MFC 1996-2000
Board Member of Norbest (turkey marketing cooperative) 1996-2000
First Vice President and Feed Division Manger of MFC 2001 - 2004
SERVICE AND PUBLIC OFFICE
Boy Scout Leader (Scoutmaster, Woodbadger, Council Executive Board)
President of Utah Young Farmers Association
Member of LDS faith and church service positions
Chairman of Moroni City Park Improvement Committee
President of Freedom Irrigation and Water Works Company
Sanpete County Farm Bureau Board
American Farm Bureau Poultry Advisory Board
Utah Farm Bureau Poultry Advisory Board
Sanpete County Commissioner 1989-1992
Chairman of the Utah County Commissioners Association (1year)
Utah Senator 1993-2004 (10 years in majority leadership positions)
Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (2005 – current)
Secretary/Treasure of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (2007-)
Chairmen of Utah Partners for Conservation and Development (2007-2008)
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Eagle Scout / Silver Beaver
Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Award (1996)
Utah State University College of Agriculture Distinguished Service Award (2003)
Utah Association of Conservation District's President's Award (1996)
Many other food, agriculture, health, and business awards
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Updated: July, 2011