Rodman to Step Down as Kansas Agriculture Secretary

December 3, 2013

The Topeka Capital-Journal

By Tim Carpenter and Andy Marso

Gov. Sam Brownback decided to promote Monday the deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture to replace the outgoing secretary.

Jackie McClaskey, who has worked for the state’s agriculture department since 2011, will replace Secretary Dale Rodman on Dec. 10.

“Jackie has been a wonderful asset,” Brownback said. “Her extensive broad-based experience, along with her hard work ethic, makes me confident she will do an outstanding job.”

McClaskey will shepherd the department through the June 2014 move of its headquarters from Topeka to Manhattan, where she has a residence. Beth Riffel, a spokeswoman for the department, said McClaskey will maintain an office in Topeka, where she will work during legislative sessions.

Rodman, a former Cargill executive, has been Brownback’s agriculture secretary since the beginning of the governor's administration nearly three years ago. Rodman, in a phone interview Monday, said he told Brownback from the beginning that he would step down after two or three years. He noted that he is turning 73 soon and has a retirement home in Texas.

In July, Rodman was elected to be chairman of the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s board of directors. He will remain in that position.

“I am grateful for his service to Kansas and to my administration,” the Republican governor said. “Dale’s personal commitment to Kansas agriculture and extensive knowledge of agribusiness has helped grow our agricultural economy.”

Rodman was the governor's point man in two unsuccessful policy objectives. He led a charge to repeal limits on corporate farming in Kansas, but the 2013 Legislature declined to endorse the move. He also was a key player in a strategy to seek federal reform of immigration policy to grant states more flexibility to fill hard-to-fill positions in agriculture.

Rodman said Brownback's top priority for the department was promoting Kansas agriculture, and he was proud of how his department had done so.

"The governor’s comments to me were he wanted agriculture to have more voice, recognition and support in the state of Kansas," Rodman said. "It had been pretty well created to just to be a regulatory agency. He said agriculture is the biggest industry in this state and he wants really some support for that.”

Rodman said he had traveled some 40,000 miles in the last three years appearing at events.

“If I’m asked to go somewhere, I try to go,” Rodman said.

Dee Likes, CEO of the Kansas Livestock Association, said Rodman's tenure has been "very impactful for everyone in Kansas agriculture."

"He’s been a very influential secretary," Likes said. "His career in agribusiness and his term as secretary has been progressive and very pro-business. The high energy and involvement he brought to the position has been appreciated by KLA and all of Kansas agriculture."

Likes said his group looks forward to working with McClaskey.

"She’s had a distinguished career in agriculture," Likes said. "We have great confidence she’ll do a top job as the next agriculture secretary and expect there will be a seamless transition.”

McClaskey grew up on a small family farm in Girard. She started as an assistant secretary of agriculture but was appointed the agency’s deputy secretary in July.

Before joining the agriculture department, McClaskey was an assistant dean in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University.

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