Miyamoto returns to Department of Ag as directorWritten by Saige Albert
Cheyenne – After one year as the director of the Wyoming Livestock Board, Doug Miyamoto will take over as director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) on March 16.
Miyamoto replaces Jason Fearneyhough, who left WDA on Dec. 31.
“I’ve always had an interest and a passion for agriculture, despite the fact that I didn’t grow up on a ranch,” says Miyamoto. “I’m a native of Wyoming, so I grew up around agriculture, and the industry has always appealed to me.”
Miyamoto’s interest in ag stemmed from natural resource science, and he pursued a degree at the University of Wyoming in rangeland management and watershed ecology.
“The idea of working in range management was appealing to me when I went to college,” he says. “I thought I was going to work on the technical side of the science, and I was happy doing that.”
After graduating with his undergraduate degree, Miyamoto went to work in the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office as a water rights analyst.
“I learned a lot about Wyoming water law, irrigation administration and water in my first job,” he says, “but I wanted to be out in the field.”
Moving to policy
From the State Engineer’s Office, Miyamoto moved to a position at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and pursued his graduate degree.
“I was a range conservationist and started doing more and more with statewide planning and policy, along with watershed work with conservation districts,” he says. “I started getting involved in policy and figured out that I liked it.”
Miyamoto jumped into a purely policy position with the Wyoming Governor’s Association next.
“I got some exposure to policy, but I wanted to get back to Wyoming,” Miyamoto comments. “That’s when I came back to Wyoming as the deputy director of WDA.”
Back to WDA
In January 2014, Miyamoto was instated in as interim director of the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB). He was officially appointed as director by the WLSB in September 2014. Governor Matt Mead appointed Miyamoto to the director’s position of WDA in January 2015.
“I know the quality of staff that WDA has, and I’m excited to be able to reacquaint myself with them and work with them,” he says, “but I feel like I am leaving behind a capable staff and new director at the Wyoming Livestock Board to continue the good work they do.”
“I came to agriculture from the resource side of the equation,” says Miyamoto. “My expertise is in grazing practices, plants, soil and water. With this position, I am coming back to the policy issues about natural resources. That fits me, and I’m excited to be working at WDA again.”
Because he is familiar with the interworking of WDA, Miyamoto notes that he is coming in with a plan for the coming years.
“The number one priority for WDA needs to be a focus on providing as much service as possible within the confines of the regulatory mechanisms we have to carry out,” he explains. “WDA is a service entity to the agriculture industry.”
Miyamoto says it is his priority to help WDA maintain that vision and to focus on education before regulation.
“It is a priority to maintain a service-oriented mindset,” he adds.
However, in the wake of regulatory atmosphere imposed by the federal government, federal land planning and policy issues will be important moving into the future.
“There are a lot of relevant policy issues right now, particularly with federal land planning,” Miyamoto says. “It will require a tremendous amount of effort to make sure we can influence those decisions related to forest plans, BLM plans and other federal planning efforts.”
He emphasizes that while WDA remains on top of the issues, being engaged in federal lands issues is critical.
“We all know how important federal planning efforts are,” he comments. “They never go away, and they are absolutely critical to the ag industry because so much of our resources are federally-owned.”
Future of agriculture
Miyamoto also mentions that planning for the future of agriculture is important and will continue to be a priority into the future.
“We always have to plan for the future of agriculture,” he says. “I would like to show a new generation about everything that is available in the ag industry.”
“We don’t have to farm or ranch to be involved in agriculture,” Miyamoto continues. “There are many opportunities beyond that, and I hope that WDA can show young people the opportunities out there through our advocacy efforts. I hope we can enlighten those who are familiar with the agency what agriculture has to offer.”
With challenges coming to the industry from a wide variety of sources, Miyamoto is optimistic about the ability of WDA to impact the industry.
Miyamoto comments, “I am honored to be the new director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and proud to have the chance to build on the positive momentum of agriculture in our state and continue building opportunities for our industry.”