Alexis Taylor has been announced as the new director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. She replaces Katy Coba, who had served in the position for 13 years before being named the state’s chief operating officer, and director of the Department of Administrative Services, back in August.
Taylor comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she served most recently as deputy undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Prior to that, she was the agency’s chief of staff for FFAS. In this role, she worked to implement provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill.
Gov. Kate Brown made the appointment. “Alexis brings a passion for agriculture, rooted in her Midwest, family-owned farm upbringing,” Gov. Brown said. “I look forward to welcoming Alexis, who will be a strong advocate for our rural communities and Oregon’s incredibly diverse agriculture sector.”
Taylor must be approved by the State Senate in December. She is scheduled to start work January 23. ODA Deputy Director Lisa Hanson has been serving in the role on an interim basis and was a finalist for the permanent job.
Pete Brentano, an owner of Brentano’s Tree Farm who served president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) in 2006, said he was impressed with Taylor’s qualifications. As a member of the state Board of Agriculture, Brentano participated in the interview panel to select Coba’s replacement.
“She’s going to be a very good director, in my opinion,” Brentano said. “I think we are getting a wonderfully talented person. It was evident that she did her homework and that she already knew a lot about Oregon agriculture. She will need to learn more about the 220 crops produced in Oregon, but I think she will take right to it.”
According to Jeff Stone, executive director of the OAN, the appointment of Taylor is a positive development for Oregon agriculture. “When the OAN had trade issues, we went to Alexis and she demonstrated incredible understanding of the challenges facing our industry,” he said. “I believe the new ODA director is capable and intelligent and I am looking forward to working closely with her and the department.”
The Oregon Farm Bureau also issued a statement of approval regarding the appointment. “We believe Ms. Taylor’s experience at a high level in Washington, D.C. gives here the background she needs to be successful in helping the industry recognize and overcome its challenges in Oregon,” the statement read, according to the Capital Press.
Before joining USDA, Taylor was legislative assistant to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), advising him on agriculture and telecommunication issues and serving as his chief negotiator on the 2012 Farm Bill. Prior to that, she worked five years as legislative director for U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa). She served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1998–2006 and did one tour in Iraq. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and grew up on a farm in Iowa, which has been under her family’s ownership for more than 150 years.