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Hover brings ranching background to WSDA

Published on March 14, 2013 3:01AM

Last changed on April 12, 2013 11:07AM


Don "Bud" Hover


Capital Press

OLYMPIA -- The new director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture brings a rancher's perspective to the job and says he plans to build on his predecessor's successes.

"As far as a new direction for the agency, I'm still working with the governor on that," Don "Bud" Hover said in an interview March 12, the day he was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee. "I'll build on (outgoing director) Dan Newhouse's successes. I'm not coming in with a big sickle."

Hover has broad experience in agriculture and government.

He is a former Okanogan County commissioner and current chairman of the state Salmon Recovery Board. His family runs a 2,300-acre hay and cattle ranch in Winthrop, Wash.

One contentious issue for the state's ranchers is the growing population of wolves. As a Methow Valley rancher and as a county commissioner, Hover petitioned the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to take the predators of the list of endangered species.

"The feds will delist them soon, and then reclassify the rest of what is not critical habitat, including Washington state," he said. "It won't take an act of Congress to control them with lethal means. We can manage them with a closed (hunting) season."

State management can allow for wolf recovery as well as protect both the cattle industry and the ungulate population -- deer and elk. Also the revenues from hunting will benefit the state and WDFW, he said.

Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen's Association, said he worked with Hover on some of the Ruckelshaus sessions on Critical Area Ordinances, where Hover participated on behalf of the counties.

"He's good listener, he's got an ag background and strong understanding of water rights and salmon recovery, and he understands public policy," Field said.

With the progress made in animal disease traceability, Field said, he hopes Hover will continue with the current electronic branding system and database.

In announcing Hover's appointment, Inslee said, "Agriculture is one of Washington's most significant cultural and economic cornerstones. Bud's experience as a rancher and his work on issues from water to wildlife will be invaluable in further growing this vital industry."

Inslee also praised Newhouse, the outgoing director.

"Dan is held in high regard for his adept leadership, and deservedly so," he said. "He's helped steer this department and this industry through some challenging times. I thank him for all his service."

Newhouse said Hover "is coming to an agency with a great team of dedicated people who will do all they can to ensure a smooth transition and help the new director hit the ground running in leading the WSDA."

The department has 760 employees.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time leading this agency and thank former Gov. Chris Gregoire for this tremendous opportunity. I wish only the best for my successor as he takes on the role of supporting Washington agriculture."

Newhouse said he will return to his 600-acre farm near Sunnyside, where he and his wife, Carol, grow hops, tree fruit, grapes and alfalfa.

He was elected four times to the state House of Representatives and served from 2003 to 2009. He is a past president of both the Hop Growers of Washington and the Hop Growers of America.

Don 'Bud' Hover

* Okanogan County resident for 37 years. He and his wife, Tonya, have two children and three grandchildren.

* Raised in Issaquah.

* Education: Master's degree in public administration, University of Washington; bachelor of science in agriculture education, forestry and range management, Washington State University; National Association of Counties Leadership School, New York University.

* Middle linebacker for the Washington Redskins for two years.

* Co-owner and manager of Sunny M Ranch in Winthrop since 1980.


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