Former San Juan County Administrator Kelly Pehrson is the new interim manager of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Gov. Gary Herbert made the appointment Jan. 14.
Commissioner Kerry Gibson stepped down from his position to run for Utah’s First Congressional District.
Pehrson has served as deputy director to Gibson at UDAF since mid-April 2019 after he resigned as San Juan County administrator. Since that time, he has had oversight over agency budgets, human resources and other administrative affairs.
“I’m grateful to Commissioner Gibson for his service to the state, and I respect his decision to run for office,” said Herbert. “I’m also thankful to Kelly Pehrson for stepping into this role so that operations at the Department of Agriculture and Food can continue uninterrupted.”
According to the Utah.gov website, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food oversees dozens of legislatively mandated programs that promote the healthy growth of Utah agriculture, the conservation of natural resources, and the protection of the food supply.
The Utah Grazing Improvement Program and the Invasive Weeds Mitigation Program both work to improve the health of rangelands and watersheds.
In the area of food safety, the department inspects the state’s 4,000 retail stores and the many food processing plants for food quality and safety and correct item pricing.
The Utah’s Own program promotes the benefits of locally grown and processed foods, which represent 15 percent of Utah’s economy.
The department also protects animal health and the state’s $1 billion livestock industry, as well as guards against invasive insects.
This report was first published in the San Juan Record on Wednesday, Jan. 22.