49th Annual KACo Conference & Exposition
Nov. 15-17, 2023 | Central Bank Center | Lexington, KY

Quarles

Dr. Ryan F. Quarles has served for eight years as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture. First elected to that position in 2015, he was re-elected in 2019, winning 117 of 120 counties.

Under his leadership, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) started several new programs, including initiatives to combat hunger, promote the physical and mental well-being of our farm families, and connect Kentucky farmers to new markets.

During his tenure, the Kentucky Office of Agricultural Policy, which provides staff support to the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation, was moved to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Through the Tobacco Master Agreement Settlement, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation provide grants, incentives, and low-interest loans to help farmers and agribusinesses innovate and grow.

Quarles’ outspoken advocacy for farmers has been recognized on the regional and national level. He has served as president for both the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA). 

Quarles graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with three undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees. In 2008, he graduated with a master’s degree in higher education from Harvard University. He received his law degree from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in higher education from Vanderbilt University in 2018.  From 2010 to 2014, Quarles served as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. A native of Scott County, he grew up on his family's farm in central Kentucky, an area where they have lived and farmed for more than 200 years.