The Thomas Poe Cooper awards are among the most prestigious honors the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture bestows. The awards are named for Cooper, former dean of the college.
The 2013 Thomas Poe Cooper Distinguished Farm Leadership Award recipient is Roger Thomas, director of Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, since 2008.
In addition to his role as Gov. Steve Beshear’s chief agricultural policy adviser, Thomas also serves as CEO of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.
Prior to his appointment, he served as a state representative for the 21st District in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1996-2004. In that role he led the passage of HB 611, landmark legislation for Kentucky agriculture. HB 611 directed 50 percent of the Kentucky proceeds of the national tobacco settlement agreement to form the Agricultural Development Fund. This fund enabled the creation of Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation, which seek to invest in projects that stimulate rural economic development and increase net farm income for Kentucky’s farmers. Thomas now leads those programs.
Thomas also has served as executive director of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council. He was the co-founder and co-chair of the National Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit from 2002-2004. He chaired the Agriculture and International Trade Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures Agriculture and Rural Development Committee; chaired the Southern States Bio-Based Energy Alliance and the Council on State Government Agriculture and Rural Development Committee; co-chaired the Kentucky Tobacco Settlement Oversight Committee; served on the Tobacco Task Force, the Kentucky Aquaculture Task Force and the council of State Government Agriculture Policy Task Force.
In his current role, Thomas has advanced the partnership among his office, the UK College of Agriculture and other agricultural leadership organizations to continue the progress of Kentucky’s agricultural economy. Thomas lives in Smiths Grove with his wife. They have three children.
The following were also recognized at the recent awards ceremony.
Thomas Poe Cooper Distinguished Research Award - James Matthews, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
Gamma Sigma Delta Distinguished Service Award - Mark Haney, Kentucky Farm Bureau president and director of the Southern Region of the American Farm Bureau.
Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Alumnus Award – Tanya Pullin, state representative from District 98.
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