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New Jersey names Ed Wengryn new secretary of agriculture

Edward D. Wengryn has been named the New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture. The State Board of Agriculture unanimously confirmed Wengryn at their meeting, and Governor Phil Murphy approved the appointment.

Assistant Secretary Joe Atchison III has directed the Department of Agriculture since July 1, assuming the responsibilities of secretary after the retirement of Douglas Fisher.

“As the Garden State, agriculture is one of the most important facets of our state’s identity and heritage," said Murphy. "Ed comes from a farming family and is a passionate advocate for our agricultural community. I am confident that his experience and leadership will benefit the many residents who depend on the department’s programs and services, including for access to healthy, locally grown food. Ed will help to ensure that the agricultural community remains top of mind as we continue to expand economic opportunities for businesses across our state.

“I also want to thank Assistant Secretary Joe Atchison for this exemplary leadership following the retirement of the state’s longtime secretary of agriculture, Douglas Fisher,” said Murphy. “Joe has led with dedication and commitment, and his reliable and steady leadership has served as an asset to the department.”

“I want to thank the State Board of Agriculture for the nomination and the opportunity to serve the agriculture industry in New Jersey as Secretary. I also want to thank Governor Murphy for his support and approval of my nomination. As the grandson of Ukrainian immigrants who settled here in New Jersey as farmers, I am humbled and honored to be able to lead an agency that has been critical to the success of not only my family, but all the farming families in New Jersey. I look forward to ensuring the department succeeds in its multifaceted missions and to serving the citizens of our great Garden State,” said Wengryn.

“The board enthusiastically endorses Mr. Edward D. Wengryn to be the next, and only eighth overall since 1916, Secretary of Agriculture for New Jersey. In our modern age, farmers are asked to help devise solutions to address challenges facing our nation and world. Whether it’s climate change, food insecurity, animal health and welfare, or the increase in invasive species from worldwide trade, agriculture as an industry must be a key player in adapting methods of production and distribution to fit our changing world,” said Holly Sytsema, president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture.

"We’re also seeing incredible growth in opportunities farmers can find to market their fresh agricultural products and services like agri-tourism to residents of New Jersey and beyond,” said Sytsema. “Both the obstacles farmers face and the opportunities they can find are often rooted in legislation and regulation. With Ed’s background of decades influencing agricultural policy on a state and federal level, he is in a unique position to know the history of, and the most current thinking on, agricultural legislative and administrative issues. The board is confident that Ed will effectively lead both the department and the agriculture industry in an age where the knowledge and skill set he brings to the table will be invaluable.”

Since 1998, Wengryn served with the New Jersey Farm Bureau, where he worked closely with farming communities. His field work included the direct marketing of farm products as well as oversight on issues such as sales taxes. Wengryn’s work at the Farm Bureau spanned ornamental horticulture, land use, forestry, and equine and other livestock issues.

From 2002 through 2004, Wengryn served as confidential assistant to Charles Kuperus, the secretary of agriculture for the state of New Jersey, where he coordinated the development of industry-specific action plans to improve the economic viability of New Jersey’s varied agriculture sectors. Since 2009, Wengryn has represented the private agriculture sector on the New Jersey Industry Advisory Council at the State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, ensuring concerns of the agricultural community are considered in State emergency response plans. This work was critical for keeping agricultural businesses open and running during the recent COVID-19 public health emergency.

Wengryn grew up in the Neshanic Station section of Branchburg Township, and his interest in agriculture and horticulture began when he was helping on the Wengryn Family farm, a dairy and field crop operation in Hillsborough, NJ. As a youth, he worked with his father, Myron, growing and selling pumpkins and pick-your-own strawberries, as well as growing and selling tomatoes to area delis in the summer.

Wengryn is a 1986 graduate of Delaware Valley College of Science & Agriculture Doylestown with a bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture. He is a resident of Trenton, NJ, residing in the Mill Hill historic district.

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