ST. PAUL (AP) --Minnesota's first new agriculture commissioner in 15 years doesn't expect major policy changes in his department even as the state struggles to plug a $6.2 billion hole in its next budget.

Dave Frederickson is a former state senator and former president of the National Farmers Union. He tells The Associated Press his agency traditionally has tried to be nonpartisan. And he says his predecessor, Gene Hugoson, is an old friend who has ensured a smooth transition for the Agriculture Department from GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

While much will be up to the GOP-controlled Legislature, Frederickson says he gets the sense lawmakers are "fully aware" that agriculture is one of the few segments of the economy that's doing well now, and won't want to damage that.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.