By Doug Graves
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brian Baldridge was appointed the 40th director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture by Gov. Mike DeWine last month.
In this position, Baldridge, 54, will provide leadership for the agriculture industry and will oversee numerous regulatory, food safety and consumer protection programs for the state. Prior to this position, Baldridge served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, where he represented the 90th district, encompassing all of Adams and Scioto counties, as well as the eastern part of Brown County.
“The ODA director post was the position that I would always look forward to if it ever became available,” Baldridge said. “I grew up seventh generation on a family farm and we were very diverse as tobacco farmers in southern Ohio with grain, cattle, hay, and we had a hybrid seed corn business which was not common in southern Ohio. Agriculture has been near and dear to my heart over the years and we still farm a little bit under 300 acres. We’ve also been involved in local government, so that’s what has led me into this position and I’m looking forward to this wonderful challenge.”
Prior to serving as a state representative, Baldridge was an Adams County commissioner for four terms and township trustee for Wayne Township for two terms. In addition to his elected public service, Baldridge was a firefighter and paramedic for the Wayne Township Fire Department. He also served as a career firefighter and paramedic with the Anderson Township Fire Department.
Through the years, Baldridge has participated in, and has been a vocal advocate for, the 4-H community and FFA. Additionally, he was elected to serve on the Adams Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors, where he helped to direct and plan conservation efforts within the county.
Food and agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, adding more than $124 billion to the economy each year. Baldridge said he up to the challenge of serving Ohioans in his new post and undertaking such a huge responsibility.
“It’s not all about cows and plows or cornfields and soybean fields,” Baldridge said. “The Department of Agriculture is very diverse in so many different areas, whether it’s the animal and plant health and those things that we would normally think about or things like meat inspections, which affect food safety, and amusement ride safety. We have a lot of different programs here in the Department of Agriculture serving the people in every corner of the state.”
Baldridge added that among his many duties, his top priorities at the onset include water quality and farmland preservation.
Baldridge attended Southern State Community College and Shawnee State University. He resides in Winchester, Ohio, with his wife of 31 years, Lori. They are members of the Bethlehem Church of Christ. They have two grown children, one grandchild and two more on the way.
Baldridge replaces Dorothy Pelanda, who retired Dec. 31.