Press Releases


KDA hires two for leadership positions in marketing


Smith, Conner join office that administers the Kentucky Proud program


For Immediate Release
Monday, May 1, 2017
For more information contact:
Ted Sloan
(502) 782-0285


FRANKFORT, Ky. — Chad Smith and Ben Conner have been added to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA’s) marketing staff, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has announced.

“Chad and Ben bring a wide variety of skills and experiences to our marketing efforts,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We are pleased to bring two people of their caliber on board. They will help us achieve our goal of raising farm income for Kentucky farmers.”

Smith is director of the Promotion and Development Division in the KDA’s marketing office. Conner is special projects coordinator. Smith and Conner assumed their positions effective April 17.

Smith most recently was general manager of Bio Alternative of Covington, Indiana, a biodiesel production facility. He has served in various management positions in the biodiesel and manufacturing industries and operates a management consulting business. Smith is a 1991 graduate of Indiana University. A native of Ohio, Smith and his wife, Lisa, live in Lexington.

Conner, who grew up in Smiths Grove, worked in the office of Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover prior to joining the KDA. Previous positions included internships with the KDA and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. He held numerous student leadership positions at UK and with the Kentucky Junior Angus Association. A 2016 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Conner lives in Lexington with his wife, Blair.

The KDA’s marketing office administers Kentucky Proud, the official state farm marketing program. The Kentucky Proud brand stands for agricultural products raised, grown, produced, processed, and/or manufactured in Kentucky. The office also operates the Buy Local program to encourage Kentucky restaurants and other food service businesses to buy local foods; compiles prices from Kentucky livestock markets; assists with livestock shows; manages Kentucky’s industrial hemp research pilot program; tests forages for nutritional value; runs grape/wine and aquaculture marketing programs; administers the National Organic Program in Kentucky; certifies ginseng for export and licenses ginseng dealers; and performs numerous other tasks to help Kentucky farmers maximize their profits.