HELENA — Republican Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte on Wednesday announced his first appointee as a state agency director – former state legislator Mike Foster, as director of the state Department of Agriculture.
“With a robust understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by our producers and a strong commitment to meeting their needs, Mike Foster will serve Montana ag well,” Gianforte said in a statement.
Foster has been working since 2018 as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency in Montana.
“Montana farmers and ranchers work hard to feed the world, and I’m excited to be a strong voice for these Montanans at the Department of Agriculture,” Foster said.
Gianforte will be sworn in as governor in less than two weeks and has yet to announce appointments for directors at a dozen other state agencies.
When asked whether the incoming administration – the first Republican one in Montana in 16 years – is having difficulty finding people to accept agency-director positions in the cabinet, a spokeswoman for Gianforte’s transition team said no.
“(Gianforte) has been incredibly impressed by the number of qualified candidates applying for the jobs,” Brooke Stroyke told MTN News.
She said the incoming governor will be announcing additional cabinet appointees in the coming days. Gianforte is scheduled to be sworn in as governor on Jan. 4.
Stroyke also declined to release Foster’s salary. She said the administration will be announcing the salaries of all of the agency directors later.
Foster served as a Republican state legislator from Townsend in the 1990s and chief policy adviser to former Montana Gov. Judy Martz. He also has worked as senior director of advocacy for several Catholic hospitals in Montana.
The incoming state Senate must confirm Gianforte's picks for agency heads.