Director of state Ag Department named |

Director of state Ag Department named

by Susie Vasquez

Don Henderson became executive director of Nevada’s Department of Agriculture last month, and he seems to be taking it in stride.

He replaces Paul Iverson, who died in May after a 10-month battle with leukemia.

“Paul left the agency in real good shape,” Henderson said. “He made a lot of improvements, and I don’t expect to make any dramatic changes. I want to build on his progress.”

The Agriculture Department services and aids agricultural operations, the petroleum industry and green industries, including horticulture and pest control.

“I want to work with those industries to build a vision, focusing on their needs, changes the department will need to make to accommodate those needs 15 to 20 years down the road,” he said.

A certified range management consultant, Henderson earned a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, focusing on natural resource management and rangeland grazing.

A private consultant for 13 years, he’s certified as a range management consultant and professional rangeland manager by the Society for Range Management.

Henderson was deputy director of the ag department for five years, a position created in 1997 by the Legislature to address natural resource and environmental issues affecting agriculture.

He organized and lead a number of efforts, including the Nevada Weed Action Committee and Environmental Action Committee.

The effective management of Nevada’s rangelands will be his primary focus, Henderson said.

The department has not been able to provide much assistance with the increase in environmental regulation of Nevada’s agricultural industry, Henderson said.

But with the department actively engaged in the issues, he believes it can do what’s needed without being too onerous.

“Farmers and ranchers contend that they are the original stewards, and they’ve been good at that,” he said.

“Other sectors of the public feel consumptive use of rangeland is inherently bad, and they want to eliminate it entirely.

“I guess I have different perspective,” he said. “We can maintain the natural conditions we want and sustain the agriculture industry on those lands. That’s where I expect to be playing a more effective role.”

Henderson, 45, was appointed by an 11-member board of representatives from the petroleum and other affected industries, including beef, sheep and dairy, with the concurrence of the governor.

He will earn $85,750 annually.