Governor Steve Beshear today announced that Roger Thomas, executive director of his Office of Agricultural Policy, has been awarded one of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s most prestigious honors – the 2013 Thomas Poe Cooper Distinguished Farm Leadership Award.
“I congratulate Roger on receiving this prestigious award and for his loyal service to the Commonwealth, “said Gov. Beshear. “With Roger’s leadership and continued dedication to agriculture, as well as the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, he has helped create new opportunities for our farm families and rural communities across the Commonwealth.”
Thomas Poe Cooper, former dean of the college, established a trust fund to provide for the recognition of an outstanding farm leader in Kentucky each year. Nominations are accepted from within the college and recipients are selected based on demonstrated leadership in the community, county and state in terms of adopting new ideas and exemplifying the finest in rural life.
Thomas has served as Gov. Beshear’s Office of Agricultural Policy executive director since 2008, as well as the CEO of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation. In 2012, he was identified by a journalist’s poll as number one in the Top 10 Most Influential People in Kentucky Agriculture Today.
Prior to his appointment, he served as a state representative for the 21st District in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1996-2004. In that role, he led the passage of House Bill 611, landmark legislation for Kentucky agriculture, which directed 50 percent of Kentucky’s proceeds of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to form the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund. This fund has stimulated rural economic development and increased net farm income for Kentucky’s farmers.
Thomas also has served as executive director of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council and was the co-founder and co-chair of the National Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit from 2002-2004. He has led many committees as chair or co-chair, including the Council on State Government Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, and the Kentucky Tobacco Settlement Oversight Committee.
In his current role, Thomas has advanced the partnership among his office, the UK College of Agriculture and other agricultural leadership organizations to continue the progress of Kentucky’s agricultural economy. Thomas lives in Smiths Grove with his wife. They have three children.