RICHMOND, Va. — On May 21, Governor Ralph S. Northam announced the appointment of Brad Copenhaver as the 17th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Having grown up in a farming family, Copenhaver is passionate about agriculture and has devoted his career to supporting Virginia’s largest private sector industry.
Copenhaver had previously served in the Northam Administration as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, where he managed a legislative, regulatory, and budget portfolio to support the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Department of Forestry, and Virginia Racing Commission. While in this role, he worked with the General Assembly and helped pass legislation to regulate hemp-derived oils intended for human consumption, maintain federal produce safety compliance and meet Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments with regard to urban fertilizer application. He also helped facilitate Governor Northam’s Marijuana Legalization Work Group and was a leader in the Governor’s successful effort to thoughtfully legalize cannabis for adult use during the 2021 General Assembly session.
After working on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for Congressman H. Morgan Griffith (VA-9), Copenhaver was the Director of Government Affairs at the Virginia Agribusiness Council, where he worked closely with the General Assembly and Virginia congressional delegation on a variety of issues including animal welfare, food safety and labeling, environment and water quality, and international trade.
Copenhaver was a Pamplin Scholar at Virginia Tech and graduated with degrees in Political Science and Agricultural Economics. He obtained a Master of Business Administration at the University of Washington (UW). While obtaining his degrees, Copenhaver served as a National Beef Ambassador, Virginia 4-H President for two terms, and treasurer of the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate. During this time, he spent summers working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Tokyo, and Bryant Christie, Inc., an agricultural exports consulting firm in Seattle.
As the latest generation in a long line of farmers, Copenhaver grew up on his family’s beef cattle and burley tobacco farm in Washington County. He lives with his partner Andrew in Richmond and they hope to one day return to the family farm in Southwest Virginia.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS