Ryan Quarles was elected Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture in 2015. Under his leadership, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has started several new programs, including initiatives to combat hunger and connect Kentucky farmers to new markets. Ryan Quarles has also supported the expansion of Kentucky’s diverse agricultural portfolio to include industrial hemp, kenaf, and hops. This has led to the historic rise of Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Program.
Ryan Quarles is a ninth generation farmer and grew up on his family’s farm in Scott County. His own great grandfather grew Hemp on the banks of the Kentucky River for rope production during World War II. Since taking office, Industrial Hemp has expanded from 32 acres in 2016 to 6,700 acres today. Kentucky is now a national leader in Hemp production and hundreds of jobs have been created in the process.
On the national level, Commissioner Quarles has served as Second Vice President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and as Chairman of the Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee (RACC). Additionally, Quarles serves on President Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Team.
Dr. Quarles graduated from the University of Kentucky with three undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees. In 2008, he was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University, where he studied higher education, government, and law. After graduating with a Master’s degree in higher education, he returned home to finish his last year of law school at the University of Kentucky. He also completed his doctorate at Vanderbilt University.