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Idaho Gov. Brad Little appoints Chanel Tewalt as state’s agriculture director

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USDA-NRCS State Soil Scientist Shawn Nield gives a soil health presentation at the Magic Valley Soil Health Field Day in Kimberly, Idaho, on June 29, 2022. (Carly Whitmore/USDA)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday appointed Chanel Tewalt to serve as the director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, replacing longtime director Celia Gould.

Tewalt has served as deputy director for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture since 2021. Tewalt first joined the Idaho State Department of Agriculture as a college intern and has amassed 15 years of experience at the department, including serving as the chief operations officer.

“It is a privilege to be considered for this role. Agriculture has shaped my life in countless ways,” Tewalt said in a written statement. “I have a deep admiration for the industry and for the hard-working people who make it possible. I also understand how important it is for ISDA’s work to be implemented with transparency, consistency, and balance.”

Chanel Tewalt is married to Idaho Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt. The two own and operate a small livestock operation in Meridian, according to a bio of Josh Tewalt posted to the Correctional Leaders Association’s website.

Former Gov. Butch Otter appointed Gould as the director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture on Jan. 2, 2007, and she has held that position for the past 16 years. During her tenure, she participated in several overseas trade missions and Idaho agriculture exports increased from $1.2 billion per year in 2007 to $2.7 billion in 2021, according to a press release from Little’s office.

Gould is a third-generation owner/operator of a cattle ranch in Buhl. She previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 1996 to 2002. Gould and her husband, former Speaker of the Idaho House Bruce Newcomb, also have a beef operation near Declo.

“There are few people who understand every aspect of the Idaho agriculture industry like Celia Gould. It takes a special person to accomplish what she has as director. I have greatly appreciated Celia’s wisdom, work ethic, integrity, and friendship throughout her service to the state of Idaho,” Little said in a written statement. “While she will be greatly missed, her retirement is well deserved. I trust the agency will be in excellent hands under Chanel Tewalt’s leadership.”

Gould said she plans to return to her family’s cattle ranch in retirement.

“Over these 16 years, I am honored to have worked alongside incredible staff, two great governors, and an industry second to none,” Gould said in a written statement. “It has been a joy to work on the significant events and quiet efforts that assisted and highlighted Idaho agriculture. I am now blessed to return to the ranch with my family.”

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture was established in 1919 to serve and regulate the agriculture industry. The department is divided in the director’s office, six divisions — animals, ag inspections, farm and ranch center, FSMA, laboratories, marketing and plants and insects — and two bureaus.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.