State Agriculture Director Mitch Irwin recently announced that he is retiring as director to pursue private sector business ventures. Irwin made his official announcement in a letter to the Michigan Agriculture Commission, which met in East Lansing, July 17. Irwin is expected to leave his post on or before August 17.
Agriculture Commission Chair James Byrum accepted Irwin's resignation and complimented his leadership on agriculture issues.
"Mitch Irwin has been a dynamic advocate for agriculture and has been especially effective in promoting the emerging bio-fuel and alternative energy sectors," Byrum said. "We are grateful for his service and wish him every success in the future."
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm commended Irwin for his years of dedicated service and creativity he brought to state government.
"Mitch has been an enthusiastic champion for protecting our food supply, promoting Michigan-grown products, and preserving critical farmland," said Granholm. "Mitch also helped launch our effort to create thriving bio-fuel and alternative energy industries in Michigan, a critical part of our plan to revitalize Michigan's economy."
Irwin said his decision brings to a close a career of public service in state government that began with his election to the Michigan Senate in the 1970s and is looking forward to pursuing private business opportunities.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of leading the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to help expand agriculture and diversify Michigan's economy," he said, "It is simply time for me to return to the private sector to pursue opportunities in business development, investment, and real estate ventures. MDA has an outstanding team of dedicated professionals, and I have been honored to work with them and with the commission," Irwin concluded.
By statute, the Agriculture Commission appoints the director. Chairman Byrum said the selection process will begin immediately and expects the commission to solicit, interview, and select the new director in the next few weeks.