LINCOLN, Neb. — A farmer from southeast Nebraska has been named director of the state Agriculture Department.

Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office announced Monday that Steve Wellman, who owns and operates a family farm near Syracuse, will take over the position. Wellman will replace Greg Ibachb who left the state post to become undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wellman, 56, will begin work on Tuesday with a $115,000 annual salary.

Wellman’s operation in Syracuse produces soybeans, corn, wheat, alfalfa and cattle. Wellman said his 30 years of experience farming in southeast Nebraska gives him an understanding of what farmers go through every day. He said he’ll focus on raising the state’s profile national and internationally.

“He will be a voice for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, and will work to expand market access, add value to our quality commodities, and advocate for property tax relief,” Ricketts said. “My administration’s vision is to grow Nebraska, and our state’s No. 1 industry is absolutely critical to realizing this goal.”

Wellman has been involved with the Nebraska Soybean Association and has held leadership positions with the American Soybean Association. He’s also a member of the American Farm Bureau, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Ag Builders of Nebraska and Outstanding Farmers of America.

Wellman has served on agricultural advisory committees for Ricketts and President Donald Trump.