|MAY 2005 --
Prelli, 56, President/Master of the Connecticut State Grange, said that through his position he wants the state of Connecticut to continue to have a strong agricultural standing.
"The commissioner oversees all of the agriculture in the state -- from aquaculture and shellfishing to mushroom farming in eastern Connecticut," Prelli said.
Connecticut's Department of Agriculture oversees a $2 billion annual industry including dairy, egg, poultry, horticulture and floriculture products, according to a state press release.
The agriculture post was left vacant when Bruce H. Gresczyk resigned amid a state whistleblower investigation. Gresczyk stepped down after weeks of controversy over allegations that he had improperly interfered in his agency's regulatory enforcement actions against shellfishing companies.
Gresczyk abruptly announced in early March that he would quit his $117,000-a-year job as agricultural commissioner on April 15.
If the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Consumer Protection merged two years ago a very important industry that the state needs would have been lost, Prelli said.
"I think what people see is dairy farming and traditional farms in the state going down in number, but agriculture businesses are continuing to grow in our state," Prelli said.
Prelli said that in terms of gross agricultural income Connecticut takes in the second largest total in New England.
"In seeking a Commissioner of Agriculture I wanted someone who understands the diversity of the industry in Connecticut -- from shade tobacco to oyster farms," Rell said.
"I think that he is going to bring a lot to the position," Marie Prelli-Keefe, daughter, said.
Prelli-Keefe said that her father has been involved in agricultural issues for a number of years through the Connecticut State Grange and state legislature.
"I remember the stories he tells of his life growing up and the time he spent working on his grandparents? farm," Prelli-Keefe said. "I think that is where his love came from."
Prelli was the state representative of the 63rd District for 12 years from 1991 to 2003. He was a member of the Winchester Board of Education for four years in the late 1980s. A graduate of Northwestern Connecticut Community College and Central Connecticut State College, Prelli worked for Aetna Life & Casualty Insurance Company and has run several independent insurance agencies.
In 1995 Prelli was named Connecticut Farm Bureau Legislator of the Year, and in 2002 he received the Farm Bureau's Agricultural Statesman Award according to a state press release.
A resident of Barkhamsted for two years, Prelli lived in Winchester his entire life.
"I'm incredibly proud of him," Prelli-Keefe said. "I heard the news in my car on the way home from work -- I called him up right away and congratulated him."
Mrs. Frank Prelli, the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture's mother, said that she is very pleased with the news and is sure her son will do his best.
Rell said that Prelli's knowledge and experience, not only in the state government but also as a leader of our state's agriculture industry, makes him extraordinarily well qualified to oversee this $2 billion-a-year-concern.
"I'm really happy to be serving this governor because I worked with Jodi for four years in the legislature," Prelli said. "I think she is doing a tremendous job as a governor."