Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has selected Steven K. Reviczky, who has been the voice for Connecticut’s 5,000 farmers for the last five years at the Capitol, as the state’s commissioner of agriculture.
Currently the executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau and a farmer from Coventry himself, Reviczky is versed in the issues facing the state’s agriculture community, including attempts to ban outdoor wood furnaces, regulating water-flow for reservoir owners and the severe drop in the number of dairy farmers in the state.
“These are very exciting times for Connecticut farmers,” Reviczky said. “This is all about local farms and local jobs… Government needs to be a partner to make that happen.”
The University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources reports agriculture is a $3.5 billion industry in the state and is linked to 20,000 jobs.
Malloy called Reviczky “active and vibrant” and said his knowledge of the industry will be “invaluable to the thousands of family farms across our state.”
Rep. Bryan Hurlburt, D-Tolland, whose district has dozens of farmers, called his longtime friend a “common sense farmer.”
“Steve understands farms and government. More importantly, he understands how farming and government should work together,” Hurlburt said.
Lawmakers are gearing up now to propose once again banning outdoor wood-burning furnaces statewide, but Reviczky opposes a ban. He says wood harvesting is a form of farming and a ban would eliminate the market.
As agriculture commissioner, Reviczky will also be at the center of brokering a compromise on water flow rules. Earlier this month the state Department of Environmental Protection proposed requiring dam operators to release water to maintain river and stream water levels. But agriculture interests are among those opposing the DEP’s rules, saying they would prevent farmers from being able to draw water for their crops during the summer months when water levels are low.
Also at the top of Reviczky’s agenda in the continuing months is renewing a state subsidy given to dairy farmers in the state to help them pay their bills. That subsidy is set to expire in July.
When asked if he intends to support renewing the subsidy, Malloy said he is “committed to the dairy industry in Connecticut… At what cost we will bare ultimately to support that industry? We will cross that bridge when we get to it.”
On the treatment of farm animals, Reviczky said the system is working well to ensure the humane treatment of animals.
“We have laws on the books… I don’t see where we have any problems, quite frankly,” he said.
President of the farm bureau, Don Tuller, said Reviczky has been a “strong voice” for the agriculture industry throughout the years and looks forward to working with him and the Malloy administration.
Prior to his time at the non-profit farm bureau, Reviczky spent eight years leading the state agriculture department’s review of applications for grants through the Farmland Preservation Program. He also led the drafting of Connecticut’s proposals for funding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Reviczky is a former First Selectman in Ashford. He graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in Public Policy and Government.