Agriculture director resigns

Posted: Friday, May 11, 2007

ANCHORAGE - The director of the state Division of Agriculture has resigned, claiming he's frustrated with Gov. Sarah Palin's administration's lack of direction on key issues such as the Alaska's ailing dairy industry and a state-run meat plant.

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Larry DeVilbiss submitted a resignation letter Tuesday to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin after a little more than two years on the job.

DeVilbiss also said he knew he was likely to be replaced soon and wanted to leave to take care of his own farm in the Palmer area. DeVilbiss raises beef and carrots.

"It was becoming obvious that if the governor intended to confirm me, she would have done it," he said. "I've got to put up hay and make a living."

His last day on the job is May 31, he said.

DeVilbiss is a former Matanuska-Susitna Borough assemblyman who serves on the borough school board and the Matanuska Electric Association board of directors.

The director earns $85,700 annually to oversee a staff of about 50, an annual budget of about $7 million and programs from promotion of the Alaska Grown logo to seed-potato development.

During his administration, he was criticized by some farmers for his efforts to privatize the state-owned Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant and for his support of a state lawsuit against a farming group over the use of the Alaska Grown logo.

He listed expansion of the state's export of seed potatoes as one of his accomplishments.

State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Dan Saddler said no replacement has been picked for DeVilbiss.

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