Gov. Eric Holcomb did more than bring greetings when he spoke at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention in West Baden, Ind., in December. He announced he was creating a cabinet position for Bruce Kettler, executive director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. It’s the first time that anyone specifically representing agriculture — besides the lieutenant governor, by virtue of the office — will be on a governor’s cabinet. The appointment became effective in January.
“We’ve been recommending that the ISDA director also be a cabinet member for a long time,” says Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president. He’s a farmer from the Evansville area. “It’s important for agriculture to have a seat at the table and a voice in the administration.”
ISDA was established in 2005 under the leadership of Gov. Mitch Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. Daniels didn’t use a typical cabinet approach, observers say. Until now, the lieutenant governor had been the only person directly representing ISDA and agriculture when the governor convened his leadership team.
Kettler (above) became the director of ISDA two years ago, after then-director Ted McKinney resigned to accept a new position as an undersecretary for trade with USDA in the Trump administration. McKinney is still in that role, traveling the globe to advocate for U.S. trade interests for agricultural products.
Before joining ISDA, Kettler headed public relations at Beck’s, Atlanta, Ind. He’s a former National FFA officer, originally from Ohio.