Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan last week announced Thom Petersen as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.

Petersen, 52, is a longtime resident of Royalton Township near Pine City, Minn., where he lives on a horse farm. He has served as director of government relations for Minnesota Farmers Union since 2002, working on behalf of MFU’s farmer-members in both Washington, D.C., and St. Paul.

“Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture are vital to our economy and our way of life. With more than a decade of experience at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Thom Petersen understands how policy directly affects farmers’ daily lives,” Walz said. “We’re looking forward to working with him as our incoming commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to ensure our farmers can compete in the global marketplace.”

Before his work at the MFU, Petersen spent most of his life working for his family and his own horse and farm business. He has a wide range of experience in state and federal farm policy and travels to almost every county in Minnesota each year to fully understand how these policies affect farmers’ daily lives.

Petersen has served on many boards and committees, including the University of Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee, Farmers Legal Action Group, Citizens Utility Board, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, Minnesota State Organic Task Force, Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition and the Minnesota Fair Plan.

Petersen received his associate’s degree from Normandale Community College and studied at both the U of M and University of Georgia. He and his wife, Alana, live in Pine City with their two sons. They show horses around the state and have competed at the Minnesota State Fair for more than 25 years.

“I am honored, humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture in the Walz-Flanagan administration,” Petersen said. “I look forward to working with Gov.-elect Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Flanagan to address the diverse challenges Minnesota farmers face and promote opportunities available across the state to strengthen our agricultural economy.”

Other finalists considered for the position were Pat Lunemann and Tina May.