Veteran state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, has been named secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Harsdorf, a senator since 2001, is the first woman to head DATCP in the department’s 88-year history.

Gov. Scott Walker announced her appointment Friday.

“Sheila’s experience as a highly respected, dedicated legislator and dairy farmer makes her an excellent fit to lead DATCP,” Walker said.

Harsdorf resigned from her Senate seat Fridayand will start her new job on Monday.

“I am honored to serve as DATCP secretary and I thank Gov. Walker for entrusting me to lead,” she said. “I’m excited to work with and support our farmers, businesses and consumers to promote a fair marketplace and economic growth in Wisconsin’s vibrant agriculture industry.”

Former DATCP secretary Ben Brancel retired in August, and the department had been run by interim secretary Jeff Lyon.

Prior to becoming a senator, Harsdorf represented the 30th Assembly District from 1989 to 1998.

Walker set a special election for the Assembly seat to take place on Jan. 16, with a primary, if necessary, on Dec. 19. Nomination papers must be filed by 5 p.m. Nov. 21.

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