Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson will retire at the end of April.
Johnson has led the department since the start of the administration in 2011 and was Haslam’s first commissioner appointment. He has been instrumental in development of the Governor’s Rural Challenge: a 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. Under Johnson’s leadership, many goals of the plan have already been met and foundations laid for future projects.
“I want to thank Julius for his incredible leadership and service to the state as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. He has been a champion for the agriculture industry – the largest industry in Tennessee – and a tremendous asset to our administration who will be missed,” Haslam said.
Inter-agency cooperation has been a priority for Johnson. He worked with other departments on many issues touching the agriculture industry, from preparations for a potential outbreak of High Path Avian Influenza to promoting the governor’s education initiatives and economic development in the rural communities.
“I’ve been truly blessed to cap a lifelong career advocating for farmers, forest landowners and rural Tennesseans by serving as commissioner of agriculture. The department has some of the best, most dedicated public servants in state government and I’m proud of the accomplishments we have achieved together,” Johnson said. “We, as Tennesseans, are healthier, better educated and have greater hope for our families due to Governor Haslam’s leadership. I’m so grateful to him for the opportunity to have played a role in making that happen.”
Johnson joined the administration after serving 37 years at the Tennessee Farm Bureau, 15 of those years as the Chief Administrative Officer.
A native of Forbus, Tenn., Johnson has served on the University of Tennessee Agriculture Development Board, the Maury County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Maury County United Way Board of Directors, the Maury County Vision 2020 Board of Directors and as president of the Maury County University of Tennessee Alumni Board. He was a Kiwanian and has served as past president of the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts. He has a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Johnson’s last day as commissioner will be April 29.