Dr. Ryan F. Quarles serves 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 and connect Kentucky farmers to new markets.
Because of the Department’s Kentucky Hunger Initiative, the Commonwealth now has the strongest legal protections for food donors in the nation. Dr. Quarles’ leadership on international trade issues saw the reopening of racehorses exports to China, a trade action that benefits all sectors of Kentucky’s agricultural economy. Dr. Quarles has also been a leader in helping diversify Kentucky’s agricultural portfolio to include hemp and hops.
Dr. Quarles’s outspoken advocacy for farmers has been recognized on the regional and national level. He serves as Vice President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA). He previously served as Chairman of the Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee (RACC).
Dr. Quarles graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with three undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees. In 2008, he was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University and graduated with a Master’s degree in higher education. He returned to Kentucky in 2010 to complete his legal education at the University of Kentucky. Quarles received his doctorate in higher education from Vanderbilt University in 2018.
From 2010 to 2014, Dr. Quarles represented Scott, Owen, and Fayette counties as a member of the House of Representatives in the Kentucky General Assembly.
Dr. Quarles grew up on his family's farm in Scott County. His family has lived and farmed in central Kentucky for more than 200 years.