The newly appointed director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture visited Grant County recently as part of a tour of all 36 Oregon counties.
Alexis Taylor was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown in December and came on the job at the end of January. So far, the job has been going well.
“It’s great,” Taylor said. “Katy Coba, my predecessor, spent 13 years in this job, and she wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t a great job.”
Taylor said she is passionate about agriculture and has a long family history of farming.
One of the biggest concerns she has heard from farmers and ranchers in Oregon is who will take over the farm when the current farmers retire.
“I think it’s something that is constantly on farmers’ and ranchers’ minds,” she said.
As the average age of the American farmer grows, many fear they may not have a family member to continue on their legacy.
It’s an issue her family is concerned with on their farm in Iowa.
“It’s something personally that we’re dealing with, but it’s also something that I hear whenever I’m traveling,” she said.
One way she intends to help those stepping into agriculture, either for the first time or to fill the shoes of an older generation, is to ensure programs and resources exist to help new farmers.
This, coupled with having a strong succession plan in place, will help Oregon agriculture prepare for the next generation.
Taylor wants to be an advocate for the industry, and help farmers both big and small.
“Being able to help them is something that’s important to me personally,” she said. “It’s not hard to do when it’s something you really love doing.”
During her tour of the counties, she has been exposed to the diversity of the state’s agriculture as well as vast range of geography and climates.
“I think it makes us stronger as an agricultural sector,” she said. “I think it’s one of our greatest assets, but it also can create challenges as well.”
Taylor has worked extensively with the federal government and said her experience with the bureaucracy will be helpful in assisting Oregonians.
Before coming to Oregon, she oversaw the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, which is comprised of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service.
“Having those relationships and knowing how the federal bureaucracy works, and sometimes doesn’t work, I think is helpful,” Taylor said.
She plans to work to better leverage federal dollars and maximize the resources available.
Taylor also served in the United States Army Reserves for eight years and completed one tour in Iraq with the 389th Combat Engineer Battalion.
“She’s somebody to really look up to,” said Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton after meeting Taylor.