Walker to oust agriculture director

State agriculture director Franci Havermeister has been given notice that her job is on the line. In a press release Friday, Governor Bill Walker said that he is looking for new agricultural leadership, and the Havermeister will stay until early December 4, while the state looks for a replacement.

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Franci Havermeister on the 2013 Mat-Su Valley farm tour. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.
Franci Havermeister on the 2013 Mat-Su Valley farm tour. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.

Havermeister says she was given notice three weeks ago.

“The initial phone call did come as somewhat a surprise to me, but I will say, I serve at the pleasure of the governor, and the governor has the right to replace any official at any time.”

In the  release, Walker says Alaska’s agricultural landscape is ripe for potential, and he looks forward to ‘”new leadership implementing a fresh vision to maximize these opportunities.” Havermeister says she’s not aware of what those opportunities could be.

“So hopefully part of that vision, that upcoming vision, is to increase marketing of Alaska Grown, to increase product availability and why we should buy local.”

She says the word ‘marijuana’ was not mentioned.

Havemeister was appointed to the position in 2007 by then governor Sarah Palin. Havermeister is one of the Department of Natural Resources longest – serving directors.

“So as far as outstanding achievements,I think that we’ve tried to increase Alaska Grown products within the public, and we continue to strive to meet the needs of the agriculture community.”

Bob Shumacher, president of the Alaska Farmer’s Union in the Matanaska Valley says the announcement was sudden.

“It’s actually news to me. I’m sorry to hear it, I’m saddened. Franci has done an awesome job while she has been in there. It’s a difficult position, she’s worked hard.”]

Governor Walker says the new division director will be tasked with the role of promoting and providing support to Alaska’s agricultural industry, a top priority of the Walker-Mallott Administration.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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