South Deerfield native Ashley Randle named state agriculture commissioner

  • Ashley Randle

Staff Writer
Thursday, March 02, 2023

BOSTON — With a background in showing cattle at fairs and working on the family farm in South Deerfield, the state’s new agriculture commissioner has a regional flair to her.

South Deerfield native Ashley Randle has been tapped by the Healey-Driscoll administration as the 21st Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources commissioner. Beginning March 6, Randle will become the first woman appointed to lead the department as she takes on the role of ensuring Massachusetts’ food supply is secure and helping guide the state’s more than 7,200 farms through a changing climate.

Randle has spent the last 4½ years as a Agricultural Resources deputy commissioner overseeing legislative and policy affairs, and will step into the role as commissioner in place of John Lebeaux.

“In this new role, I’ll really be focused on ensuring we have a safe and secure food supply across the commonwealth and making sure underserved communities have access to local and Massachusetts-grown products,” Randle said.

Raised on her family’s fifth-generation South Deerfield farm, Indian Acres, she took an interest in showing the family’s Guernsey cattle at the Franklin County Fair and other events. After graduating from Frontier Regional School, Randle went to Cornell University before heading on to Western New England University School of Law to study environmental law.

From there, she spent time at Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and at Northeast Dairy before joining Agricultural Resources as a deputy commissioner, where she oversaw legislation and policy direction, as well as food safety programming.

“All of these experiences really culminated in an extensive background in agriculture,” Randle said.

And, despite living in central Massachusetts right now, Randle said she tries to visit the family farm every week to do some work and visit the newborn calves, noting that farm work can be “therapeutic.”