Virginia Farm Bureau leaders tapped for state-level agriculture positions

virginia farm bureau federationTwo leaders with ties to the state’s largest agricultural advocacy group have been appointed to top-level agriculture positions by Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin.

Matthew “Matt” Lohr has been named the next secretary of agriculture and forestry, and Joseph “Joe” Guthrie was named commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Both of these agricultural leaders have been involved with advocating for Virginia agriculture and forestry through their involvement with Virginia Farm Bureau,” said Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor. “We look forward to continuing our long-time working relationship with them in these new roles as they strive to advance agricultural interests at the state and national levels.”

Lohr has served the past two years as chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency with more than 10,000 employees across 3,000 field offices and an operating budget of over $4.5 billion.

He was raised on a Virginia Century Farm in the Shenandoah Valley and is a fifth-generation farmer. Lohr is also a past president of Rockingham County Farm Bureau and was Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers’ first Excellence in Agriculture Award winner in 2002. He went on to capture the American Farm Bureau Federation Excellence in Agriculture Award in 2003. He also was named the VFBF Warren Beach Award recipient in 2009 for his contributions to the organization’s Young Farmers Program.

“We know that Matt’s leadership and commitment to agriculture, as well as his hands-on experience, will serve him well in this role,” Pryor said.

Lohr developed his passion for public service and agricultural policy while serving as both a state and national FFA officer before graduating from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education.

He previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010 before being appointed VDACS commissioner. His other career experiences include serving as director of the Farm Credit Knowledge Center, teaching middle school agriscience, operating his own leadership development company and serving as president of Valley Pike Farm Inc., his family’s farming operation.

Guthrie has served an elected official for 10 years. He was a member of the Pulaski County School Board from 2011 through 2015 and has served on the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors since 2015. He was elected chair of that board in 2020 and 2021.

Guthrie, who was raised on his family’s farm in Pulaski County, is a past president of Pulaski County Farm Bureau and winner of the 2001 VFBF Young Farmers Discussion Meet competition.

Guthrie currently serves as a senior instructor at Virginia Tech and has been teaching courses in business management, finance, communications and leadership in the college’s Agricultural Technology Program since 2007.

“Joe has dedicated many years to inspiring and educating the next generation of agricultural leaders, and we feel certain his skills will serve him well in his new position,” Pryor noted.

Guthrie received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Virginia Tech and earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics and international trade from Massey University in New Zealand, where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar. He has served as president of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Faculty Association and president of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. He was appointed by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.