Kansas ag secretary moves to Farm Service Agency

TOPEKA | Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky has been tapped to head the Farm Service Agency in Kansas for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a position he held during the Clinton administration.

His appointment was announced Tuesday by the Obama administration and drew praise from Gov. Mark Parkinson.

“This is great news for Kansas. With Adrian’s new position, the USDA is getting a great addition to their team, while we get to keep him right here in the Sunflower State,” Parkinson said.

“Adrian has been a remarkable leader, overseeing an agency that deals with the very heart of our state agriculture. As a farmer himself, he understands the challenges and opportunities facing this industry, and I am grateful for his service.”

Polansky, 58, owns a wholesale feed company and has a 1,900-acre family farm in Republic County near Belleville, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He was busy Tuesday helping with the wheat harvest.

“I was pleased the Obama administration was interested in bringing me back,” he said in a phone interview from the cab of his combine. “Having someone with firsthand experience in agriculture is very helpful in these types of positions.”

Polansky, who held the position from 1993 to 2001, said he will begin his new job later this month after wrapping up work at the state agency. Parkinson’s office said he would announce his plan for filling the vacancy before Polansky’s departure.

“I’m sure I’ll be visiting with the governor about my thoughts about who would be a good candidate as my replacement,” Polansky said.

He was appointed agriculture secretary by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2003. She resigned in April to become U.S. secretary of health and human services.

Polansky has been involved with many national and local agricultural organizations for 30 years. He is currently president of the Food Export Association of the Midwest and secretary-treasurer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

He also received a USDA Distinguished Service Award for his previous work as state executive director.

The Farm Services Agency provides loans for farm equipment, seed, fertilizer and rural housing. It also handles the conservation reserve program and works closely with the rural development agency.