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Walz chooses Petersen to head state ag dept.

January 11, 2019
Sarah Strommen

HASTINGS, Minn. — Days before he was sworn is as Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz named Thom Petersen as the state’s agriculture commissioner.

Petersen, 52, is a long-time resident of Royalton Township near Pine City in central Minnesota where he lives on a horse farm. He has served as the director of government relations for Minnesota Farmers Union since 2002.

“Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture are vital to our economy and our way of life. With more than a decade of experience at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Thom Petersen understands how policy directly affects farmers’ daily lives,” said Walz.

Petersen will “ensure our farmers can compete in the global marketplace,” he said in a statement.

Walz named seven commissioners on Jan. 3 at a dairy farm near Hastings to highlight his pledge to bridge the gap between rural, suburban and urban communities.

Among them, state Sen. Tony Lourey will take over the largest state agency, the Department of Human Services, which is responsible for nearly one-third of the state’s spending.

Walz also promoted Department of Natural Resources Assistant Commissioner Sarah Strommen to head the agency that protects Minnesota’s outdoors, passing over Commissioner Tim Landwehr, an appointee of Gov. Mark Dayton who had hoped to keep his job.

Walz did retain Jan Malcolm as health commissioner. She will be serving under her third governor; she also held the post under Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Walz named Laura Bishop, chief sustainability and corporate responsibility officer for Best Buy, to lead the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Career employee Janet Johnson was promoted to lead the Bureau of Mediation Services. Rebecca Lucero, public policy director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, will lead Human Rights.

Prior to his work at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Petersen spent most of his life working for his family and his own horse and farm business.

“His Farmers Union work for

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