Meet Gov. Evers’ new ag advisor, Brad Pfaff

    Ag Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff talks with farmers in Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties
    Ag Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff talks with farmers in Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties in Feb. 2019

    The state Senate was able to fire former Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff from his dream job leading the agricultural agency, but Gov. Tony Evers will still be getting advice on rural development from Pfaff. 

    Today Pfaff took a new job in the state Department of Administration (DOA) as director of business and rural development. DOA, which administers and connects with all other state agencies as part of its core mission, has always worked extremely closely with whomever is the governor. So closely, in fact, that under some past governors it got the nickname ‘Department of All.’

    In announcing Pfaff’s new position, DOA Secretary Joel Brennan emphasized Pfaff’s experience and leadership in federal, state and local government, as well as past jobs and life experiences that in connecting government and rural small businesses and communities. 

    In his role as secretary designee, Brad gave the family farmer a voice in our process,” Brennan said in the announcement. “While our residents have lost an advocate for our rural heritage and consumers in need of protection at the cabinet level, I’m proud to bring Brad onto the team at DOA to ensure his expertise and Wisconsin values are utilized to grow our economy.” 

    Pfaff’s experience cited in connection with the job announcement included serving as Wisconsin State Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency, National Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at USDA, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Ron Kind and his elected position as a La Crosse County supervisor.

    Evers attended the floor session on the day when Republicans led by Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald voted not to confirm Pfaff, thereby firing him despite numerous letters of support for Pfaff from farm advocates and trade organizations.

    Gov. Tony Evers addresses reporters after the Senate Republicans fire his cabinet pick for ag secretary, Brad Pfaff.
    Gov. Tony Evers addresses reporters after the Senate Republicans fire his cabinet pick for ag secretary, Brad Pfaff.

    Immediately after the Senate action, Evers was visibly upset as he addressed a group of reporters. 

    “I want to make sure I heard the arguments for and against one of the most distinguished agricultural leaders in the state of Wisconsin. It saddens me, obviously, distresses me personally,” Evers explained at the time. “There’s nobody that generates more enthusiasm and passion for the state of Wisconsin agricultural industry than Brad Pfaff. Now, we just threw that away, just threw that away. And for what reason? I, frankly, I don’t know.”

    Evers appointed his deputy ag secretary Randy Romanski to the spot of secretary-designee of DATCP late last week. 

    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.