Change at the top: Adams goes to USDA, Wenk appointed MDARD director | Michigan Farm News

Change at the top: Adams goes to USDA, Wenk appointed MDARD director

Category: People

by MDARD, Farm News Media

new MDARD Director
Gordon Wenk will take over as MDARD Director with the departure of Jamie Clover Adams.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams is stepping down effective March 3, 2018, Governor Rick Snyder announced today.

She has accepted a new position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an advisor in the office of the secretary. Snyder also announced that Gordon Wenk, currently MDARD’s Chief Deputy Director, will be her replacement.

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Jamie Clover Adams
Clover Adams was appointed MDARD Director by Gov. Snyder in July 2012 and was the first woman to be appointed director of the state’s agricultural department. Prior to becoming director, she worked in various governmental leadership roles for nearly 25 years, including the Michigan Senate, as well as Director of the Kansas Department of Agriculture from 1999-2003.

“Jamie has served the state of Michigan with incredible commitment and leadership,” Snyder said. “She has been instrumental in the agricultural sector’s job growth and in helping to push Michigan over the $100 billion mark in economic impact from the food and agriculture industry. She will be missed, but we’re proud to have her serving farmers at the national level.”

Clover Adams said her time as MDARD director has been invaluable and that she is looking forward to taking her diverse experience in Michigan to help achieve Secretary Sonny Perdue’s goal of making USDA the most efficient and effective federal department, providing the best customer service to farmers.

“I would like to thank Governor Snyder and his team for the opportunity to lead MDARD’s amazing staff and serve the great people of Michigan,” Clover Adams said. “Through a shared vision for the food and agriculture industry in Michigan, we have been able to rebuild the department to better serve our partners, create jobs, and protect consumers throughout Michigan and all the other states and countries that enjoy Michigan-made, Michigan-grown products. I know the department is being left in very capable hands, and I look forward to making an impact for farmers and conservation efforts on a national scale with the USDA.”

As MDARD director, Clover Adams created the Food and Agriculture Investment Fund, repealed 44 percent of the department’s antiquated rules, significantly improved customer service, created a performance excellence culture, and, most recently, took a key leadership role in addressing environmental stewardship in the Western Lake Erie Basin area.

“Michigan Farm Bureau would like to thank Jamie for her outstanding service to agriculture,” said Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski. “Throughout her years of service, we could not have asked for a person who was more willing to devote her considerable talents, leadership skills and advocacy to work for farmers. We wish her success in her new role with the USDA.

“We also look forward to working with Gordon, with whom most of us in agriculture are familiar. We know he’ll carry on Jamie’s legacy and will also work tirelessly for the agriculture community,” Bednarski said.

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Gordon Wenk

Wenk began his professional career with the department in 1978. He was integral in the implementation of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in partnership with the USDA and the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. He also led in the development of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program—a voluntary, farmer-led program now used as a national model for environmental programs. Wenk became MDARD’s Chief Deputy Director in 2008.

“We’re very fortunate to have an experienced leader like Gordon who can move seamlessly into his new role as MDARD director,” Snyder said. “He has committed his entire career to the food and agriculture community and has done so with a focus on protecting and preserving our state’s incredible natural resources. It’s reassuring to know that the successful progress and goals of MDARD will continue.”

“I look forward to continuing the positive momentum and critical projects that have been put into motion by Jamie,” Wenk said. “Under her leadership, and that of Governor Snyder, the department has become an essential partner for our state’s thriving food and agriculture industry, our capacity for providing quality customer service has improved tremendously, and we’re operating more efficiently and effectively than ever. My goal is to build upon this success and continue to move MDARD forward.”