LOUISVILLE – Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles will host the annual conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Sept. 19 – 22 in Louisville, Kentucky, as he wraps up his tenure as president of the organization. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships, and public engagement.

“Serving as president of NASDA has been one of the top honors of my life,” Quarles said. “Over the course of the last year, I have had a seat to advocate for Kentucky and American agriculture, to make sure foreign countries keep their trade commitments, and to bring our hunger reduction efforts national. The theme for this year’s meeting is ‘Redefining Agriculture.’ I am looking forward to discussing with fellow policymakers how agriculture is being redefined by trade, new technologies, and new policies coming out of Washington, D.C.”

Both virtual and in-person registration options for the hybrid conference are open at www.NASDA.org/RedefiningAgriculture. Members of the news media are welcome to attend and register as press at the registration link. Press registration is free.

Quarles is the first Kentucky agriculture commissioner to be elected president or hold office in NASDA since former Commissioner of Agriculture Billy Ray Smith, who served as president of the national organization in 2001-2002. Quarles has also led on the national level as a member of former President Donald J. Trump’s agricultural advisory council and as a two-term chair of the Republican Agriculture Commissioner’s Association.

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. Commissioner 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.

During his tenure as NASDA president, Quarles and the organization developed a food security toolkit to assist states in reducing hunger and worked with the organization across the Trump and Biden administrations to implement and enforce trade deals with Canada, Mexico, and China.  

First elected Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner in November 2015, Commissioner Quarles was re-elected in November 2019, winning 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. From 2010 to 2014, he represented Scott, Owen, and Fayette counties as a member of the House of Representatives in the Kentucky General Assembly. Commissioner Quarles grew up on his family’s farm in Scott County. His family has lived and farmed in central Kentucky for more than 200 years.