Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Appoints Soares as Agriculture Commissioner
BOSTON - Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today appointed Scott Soares of Dartmouth as Commissioner of the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR). Soares, who will assume DAR's top post on April 13, has been the agency's assistant commissioner since November 2007. He will replace outgoing DAR Commissioner Douglas Petersen, who steps down April 10.
"I could not be more pleased to name Scott Soares commissioner of the Department of Agricultural Resources," said Secretary Bowles. "Through his 13 years of service to the Commonwealth, Scott has developed a keen understanding of Massachusetts's vibrant and diverse agricultural sector, and his enthusiasm and commitment will benefit farmers across the state, as well as all of us who enjoy local produce. I know I speak for Governor Patrick when I say that the department, and the agricultural community that depends on it, could not be in better hands."
"I am thrilled and humbled to receive this appointment, which puts me in the best place to support the success of Massachusetts farmers," said Commissioner Soares. "I feel confident that, under the leadership of Governor Patrick and Secretary Bowles, Massachusetts agriculture's finest days are still ahead of it."
As assistant commissioner of DAR, Soares served as chief of staff and legislative director and provided guidance to division directors. As DAR Acting Commissioner from January to November 2007, he co-chaired the 17-member Massachusetts Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force, whose work led to landmark legislation, enacted last year, to preserve and strengthen the Bay State's dairy industry.
Soares joined the department in 1996 as Aquaculture Coordinator. In this capacity, he launched a statewide program to provide permitting and technical assistance to existing and emerging Massachusetts aquaculture businesses and research organizations. Soares graduated Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a double major in biology and marine biology, following seven years of active and reserve service in the U.S. Army.
Commissioner Soares serves on the National Association of State Aquaculture Coordinators and the board of directors of Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom. He was honored in 1999 with a Citation for Outstanding Performance by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and last month received the 2009 Government Leadership Award from The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, which represents 334 growers across the state.
Secretary Bowles's appointment of Soares drew the endorsement of many in the agricultural community.
"Mr. Soares will be a strong leader for the Massachusetts agricultural community," said Christine Clarke, Massachusetts State Conservationist with the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. "I look forward to continuing the partnership that our agencies have forged in protecting the Commonwealth's farmland, working lands and natural resources."
"Scott has been a capable and hard working proponent of agriculture in Massachusetts for many years now," said Frederic Winthrop, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Food and Agriculture (1974-1985) and current President of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture. "We know he will bring the kind of energy and creativity that the job requires in these challenging times."
"We are thoroughly delighted with the appointment of Scott Soares, who has been a tremendous partner and ally in farmland protection efforts. There's enormous interest around local agriculture, and we think Scott can provide the leadership and vision to capitalize on this momentum," said Cris Coffin, New England Director of American Farmland Trust.
Others in the agricultural community commenting on Soares' appointment are listed by county below.
"Scott has impressed me with his understanding and knowledge of our industry and lifestyle, his work ethic, and his passion for getting things done," said Glenn Cook, Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury. "He will be a great leader and I so look forward to working with him."
"I've known Scott for the past four years. His vast background in aquaculture, horticulture, and agriculture will ensure that he will be an outstanding advocate for Massachusetts farmers," said Bill Clark, farmer and selectman in Danvers and former president of the Topsfield Fair and the Massachusetts Association of Roadside Stands
"Scott has an in-depth knowledge of the agricultural community and the department," said Jay Healy, former state agriculture commissioner and owner of Tavern Hill Farm in Buckland. "He is passionate about our farms' ability to assist in land protection, clean, green energy development, and environmental and economic sustainability. He will do an outstanding job."
"Scott has been a strong advocate for agriculture and farmers across the state," said Darryl Williams, dairy farmer at Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield. "As a dairy producer, I've watched Scott work with us to help us try to find solutions for the dairy industry to try to keep a viable dairy industry in our state. He clearly understands the issues we are facing."
"We forward look to working with Scott and his team in addressing issues of most concern to the agricultural community and the Commonwealth," said Nancy Garrabrants, director of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Extension Program, which offers agricultural studies program.
"Scott has earned the respect of every grower he has worked with through his roll-up-the-sleeves and get it done attitude," said Jeffrey LaFleur, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association in Wareham. "Commissioner Soares has an integral understanding of the important relationship between environmental protection and sustainable agriculture."
The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. The DAR is comprised of four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - tasked to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community. Through its strong partnerships with municipal and federal entities, farmers, and farming associations, the DAR's services provide support for continued successful cultivation of a thriving and diversified agricultural industry, economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfilling agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.
For more information, contact the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources at 251 Causeway St., Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114, (617) 626-1700 or www.mass.gov/agr.