Nixon appoints new Missouri agriculture director

Gov. Jay Nixon has chosen a fourth-generation northwest Missouri farmer to head the state Department of Agriculture.

Nixon announced the appointment of Richard Fordyce at a news conference Thursday in Rushville.

Fordyce grows soybeans and corn and raises beef cattle in Bethany. He has been chairman of Missouri's Soil and Water Districts Commission since 2008 and is a former president of the Harrison County Farm Bureau.

Fordyce will succeed former Agriculture Director Jon Hagler, whom Nixon abruptly replaced in October. Hagler's departure came a day after an agency employee distributed a letter saying she was resigning because of what she called a hostile work environment.

Hagler has said the timing was coincidental and denied leading the agency with hostility or intimidation.

Fordyce's appointment requires confirmation by the state Senate.