ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Deputy Agriculture Secretary Mary Ellen Setting – the first woman ever to serve as Deputy – has announced that she will retire after more than 38 years of state service, effective Oct. 1, 2015. 

“Ms. Setting is a widely respected leader throughout the agricultural industry and Maryland state government,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Her extensive experience and leadership within the department, the respect she has earned among industry professionals and her peers, as well as her ability to managing a diverse range of regulatory and service programs, have been great assets to the department and the people of Maryland.”

Ms. Setting joined the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) as an entomologist in 1977 and has served under every Agriculture Secretary since the department was founded. In 1988, she was promoted to Chief of the Pesticide Regulation Section, where she was responsible for all pesticide management, educational and regulatory programs, including enforcement of state and federal laws. During her tenure in that position, she served as the first woman president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, which includes members from across the county and Canada. 

In 2004, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary for the Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management, which provides guidance and direction to MDA’s Pesticide Regulation, Mosquito Control, Forest Pest Management, Plant Protection and Weed Management, Turf and Seed, and State Chemist sections.

She was appointed Deputy Secretary in 2009, one of Maryland’s most important agricultural and consumer protection leadership positions. In this role, she has been responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the entire agency.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had to support the Maryland agricultural community all these years,” said Ms. Setting. “I have loved my time at the Maryland Department of Agriculture and am proud of the work our staff does every day. My intent has always been to ensure that laws, regulations and programs were practical and necessary, based on common sense and science, not based on emotion and misunderstanding.”

Mary Ellen is a Delaware native and graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, majoring in Entomology and Applied Ecology. She recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from that institution.

Ms. Setting lives in Anne Arundel County with her husband Dennis.

A new deputy secretary will be named soon.