Jun 28, 2023
New Jersey Ag Secretary Douglas Fisher retires

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher is retiring after 14 years in the position, following a career as supermarket owner and operator and member of the New Jersey General Assembly.

Fisher was appointed to the state’s top agriculture role in February 2009 by then-governor Jon Corzine.

His last day as agriculture secretary is June 30.


When Fisher announced his intent to retire in mid-March, Gov. Phil Murphy said he has been a friend to New Jersey farmers and agriculture community. Murphy said Fisher has been a partner with the administration’s effort to fight hunger and food insecurity, advocated for agri-tourism, and supported the growth of businesses that are keeping family farms financially viable and the state’s agricultural heritage alive.

“His tenure has ensured that our nickname as the Garden State remains a point of pride for all New Jerseyans,” Murphy said in a statement. “I thank Doug for his years of service to both my and the previous two administrations and wish him nothing but the best.”

Fisher issued a news release on June 30 with more comments about the transition. Assistant Secretary Joe Atchison III will lead the department.

“As assistant secretary and director of marketing and development, Joe has played a critical role in ensuring that the importance of our agricultural heritage and industry is communicated throughout the state,” Gov. Murphy said in the release. “His years of experience, coupled with his unique insight, will serve as assets to the department.”

Fisher received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Bryant College in Rhode Island in 1969 and served in the New Jersey National Guard from 1969 to 1975. In 1971, he began a 30-year career as a supermarket owner and operator. He is a realtor and a former New Jersey franchise owner of the Entrepreneur’s Source, according to his biography on the state ag department website.

“I am blessed to have the privilege of serving the public in my career in government and have always strived as secretary of agriculture to bear in mind how we could help not only the industry, but also all residents whose lives are enhanced by agriculture in our state,” Fisher said in the release.

A Democrat, he was elected to the Assembly from the 3rd Legislative District in 2001 and was re-elected three times, serving as deputy majority whip and chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. He also served on the Budget, Commerce and Regulated Professions committees. He was a Cumberland County freeholder from 1992-2001 and was a freeholder director from 1996-2000. He also served as a Bridgeton City councilman from 1990-92.

As a state legislator, Fisher was the prime sponsor of the law to ban harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs, which enhanced the survival of many endangered migratory shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere. He also introduced the original bill to limit the use of handheld cell phones in motor vehicles, according to the biography.

He is a past-president of the South Jersey Freeholders Association; past-treasurer of the South Jersey Economic Development District; and past-secretary of the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization.

Fisher has been the treasurer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, president of Food Export-Northeast, and president of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

His honors and recognitions include:

  • Thomas W. Kelly New Jersey Food and Council Government Service Award, 2014
  • Honorary American FFA Degree, 2010
  • South Jersey Freeholders Southern Star Award, 2009
  • Named Legislator of the Year by the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, 2008
  • Named Legislator of the Year by New Jersey Farm Bureau, 2005

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