shown: Virgin Falls, Sparta Tennessee
Commissioner Ken Givens
Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Ken Givens was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen and assumed the office as Tennessee's 34th commissioner of agriculture on Jan. 18, 2003. He was re-appointed after Bredesen's successful re-election campaign for a second term as Governor in 2006.
Givens is a native of Rogersville in Northeast Tennessee where he grew up on a farm and was involved in dairying, beef and tobacco production.
He is a U.S. Army veteran and holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science as well as a master's degree in political science from East Tennessee State University.
He is a former State Representative. He was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1988, and he served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1997 to 2002. He was the House of Representatives' designee to and served for four years on the Tennessee Tobacco Farmers Certifying Board, which administered Phase II tobacco settlement funds for growers.
During his 14 years in the House, Givens was instrumental in passing key farm legislation including a measure to ensure the ability of existing farm operations to expand under Tennessee's right-to-farm law. He also sponsored legislation to evaluate and recommend sound forestry management practices and to help improve prices and markets for dairy farmers. In addition to agricultural issues, he took a special interest in school health issues, sponsoring and passing legislation that created 10 pilot programs statewide that serve as model school health programs. This school health program has now been expanded to a statewide program.
In April 2004, Governor Bredesen named Givens Chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Methamphetamine Abuse to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of the drug. As a result of the implementation of recommendations by the Task Force, the number of homegrown meth labs has been reduced by well over half of the original number of labs. Givens serves on the Tennessee Homeland Security Council to coordinate the department's activities regarding animal health, chemical use, food safety and other security matters.
He currently serves as president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) and is president-elect of the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA), both organizations representing the agricultural interest of 15 southern states and two U.S. territories.
As commissioner of agriculture, he also serves on The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, the Board of Regents for the State University and Community College System, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.
Commissioner Givens is married to Connie Hall Givens who is State Director of the Coordinated School Health Program for the Department of Education. They have three grown children and one wonderful granddaughter, Zo╬.