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Name: Leahy, Brian
Current Position: Director

A pioneering organic and biodiversity farmer and a former legal services attorney, Brian R. Leahy was appointed director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation by Governor Jerry Brown in February 2012.

In 1980, the native Californian took over operation of Cherokee Ranch, Inc., a 900-acre rice farm in Butte County that converted to organic farming practices. Leahy leased out the farm in 1992, but kept ownership of the property until 2003. He moved to Nebraska in the early ‘90s and continued to farm while his wife attended medical school at Creighton University in Omaha. Leahy operated an 800-acre farm in Fremont, Nebraska, from 1992-1994, growing organic corn, soybean, alfalfa and cattle.

“I would go out at 5 a.m. to feed the cows and it was something like 40-below,” he said in a 2006 interview. “One day, I came home and a friend of my wife’s was talking about law school. I had farmed fulltime until I was 40 years old. After you’ve spent the day breaking up silage with a pickax to feed the cows, law school sounds pretty good.”

Leahy went back to school and received his juris doctorate degree from Creighton University School of Law in Nebraska in 1997. He co-founded an inner-city market garden educational nonprofit, worked as a legal aid and helped a small international fair company involved in sustainable agriculture.

In 2000, Leahy became executive director of California Certified Organic Farmers and four years later took the same post at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts. He stayed until 2006, when he was appointed an assistant director in the Department of Conservation, running the Division of Land Resource Protection. He remained there until his 2012 appointment as DPR director.

Leahy is an outdoors enthusiast and exhuberant athlete; he has completed the swim from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park in San Francisco three times.


Our Director and Chief Deputy Director (DPR website)

Brian Leahy, Assistant Director, Division of Land Resource Protection (Department of Conservation)

An Interview with Brian Leahy (New Valley)

Former Farmer is Pick of the Crop (Department of Conservation) (pdf)

Brian Leahy (LinkedIn)

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