The Michigan Commission of Agriculture named Donald W. Koivisto as the new director of the state Department of Agriculture during a special session held Aug. 13 at the Lansing Center. A start date has not yet been determined.
"Don is not only a strong advocate for Michigan agriculture, but has a wealth of knowledge and experience to further expand the state's second largest industry," says James Byrum, commission chair. "He will be able to hit the ground running in terms of growing Michigan agriculture, especially in the areas of renewable fuels and food processing, which are critical to the continued diversification of the state's economy."
"Michigan agriculture is a rapidly growing sector of the state economy, and I'm looking forward to facilitating new opportunities as the state's agriculture director," says Koivisto. "As an advocate for agriculture, I plan to protect the industry base while increasing Michigan's presence in other sectors, such as specialty crops and exports into the global marketplace."
Koivisto, 57, was born and raised in the western Upper Peninsula, graduated from Central Michigan University in 1971, and currently has a Centennial Farm in Ellsworth where he grows corn, soybeans and hay. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1980 where he served three terms and was chair of the House Agriculture Committee from 1984-1986. Additionally, he served 12 years in the state Senate after being elected in 1990 and was on the agriculture appropriations subcommittee. He is married with four children.
The Michigan Commission of Agriculture is a bipartisan body appointed by the Governor to provide oversight and policy direction for MDA programs, appoint the director of agriculture, and approve the rules and regulations the department promulgates.