WDA Celebrates 100 Years
By Doug Miyamoto
In 1923, King Tut’s tomb was opened, the first game was played at Yankee Stadium and the first issue of Time Magazine was published. Along with these noteworthy events, something a little more important to us here in Wyoming happened in Cheyenne.
During the 17th session of the Wyoming Legislature, 25 members of the Senate and 60 members of the House debated and passed House Bill (HB) 230 to establish the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA). The legislation was then signed into law by Gov. William Bradford Ross on March 3, 1923.
This legislation created the Board of Agriculture, which would oversee WDA activities and hire the first Commissioner of Agriculture. It transferred duties of the Immigration Department and the Dairy, Food and Oil Department to the new state department, along with supervision of the Wyoming State Fair.
This legislation also required the commissioner to hire deputies from the University of Wyoming (UW) for technical scientific training and expert advice, while paying one-half of their salary to serve in these positions. These deputies would continue to act as faculty at UW, while also serving as employees of the State Department of Agriculture
100 years of support and regulation
From the first days of WDA, the focus has always been on supporting and regulating the agricultural industry in Wyoming.
Over the past 100 years, there have been 19 commissioners and/or directors of agriculture, including myself, and as time has rolled on, the duties, structure and statutory responsibilities of WDA have shifted and grown with the times and the needs of the ag industry and the state.
While there have been changes over the years for WDA, the protection, regulation and enhancement of the agriculture industry in Wyoming has always been the driving force.
We are proud of the work we do for our industry and for the citizens of our state.
We currently oversee a wide variety of statutes, regulations and programs for the ag industry and citizens of Wyoming.
WDA continues to be dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of agriculture, natural resources and contribution to Wyoming’s quality of life, and we do this through the five divisions of WDA.
These include administration, which makes sure the business of WDA continues, and we have the ability to move forward as a department; analytical services, which includes ensuring our laboratory has the ability to run a wide variety of scientific tests for agriculture and more and technical services, which deals with plants, seed, feed, bees, pesticides, predators and more.
The last two of these divisions are consumer health services, which inspects and licenses meat plants, restaurants and more and natural resources and policy, which makes sure ag has a seat at the table for policy decisions at the state and federal levels, various grants, mediation and more.
We strive to promote and preserve our agricultural community, assist the citizens of Wyoming to live safe and healthy lives, be responsible stewards of our natural resources and achieve integrity in the marketplace.
Celebrating a century
As part of the 100th year of WDA, we are planning an open house at the WDA Main Office in June, where everyone can come to Cheyenne and celebrate with us. While our doors are always open to the public, the open house will be a chance for the community and our partners to come see us and learn more about WDA and the history of our department.
Along with this, we will be releasing a variety of information on our website and social media in coming months about our department over the years, so keep an eye out for this content.
Finally, we will be hosting the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting in Cheyenne on Sept. 10-13. This is the first time our state will have hosted this prestigious, national conference where directors, secretaries and commissioners of agriculture from across the country, along with employees from the federal government and ag industry representatives come together to discuss important agricultural issues of the day.
We anticipate more than 450 attendees for the NASDA meeting, and we are excited to bring them all to town. We look forward to celebrating our industry and department during the conference by showcasing our industry, our state, our people and our department.
It’s going to be a busy year, but we are looking forward to celebrating with the citizens of Wyoming at the open house and with the national agriculture community during NASDA.
It has been a good century here at WDA, and we look forward to the work we do for our state over the next century of work for Wyoming.
Doug Miyamoto is the director of WDA and can be reached by calling the WDA Main Office at 307-777-7321.