Baenig to head US Beet Sugar Association

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, June 20, 2016 - Brian Baenig, a former chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is joining the US Beet Sugar Association as executive vice president and will take over as president in January following the retirement of longtime President James W. Johnson.

Baenig left USDA last year to serve as executive vice president of the Food and Agriculture Section at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. At USDA, Baenig also served as assistant secretary for Congressional Relations and as deputy under secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs. He starts his new job July 25.

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“The sugar industry has one of the best government relations teams in all of Washington, and Brian will only make that team stronger,” said Mark Flegenheimer, the president and CEO of Michigan Sugar Co.  “His experience and leadership will be essential as we navigate upcoming issues, including the farm bill, trade agreements, foreign subsidization and food labeling.” 

Johnson is leaving the Beet Sugar Association after 18 years. During his tenure he served five terms as chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. He joined the association in 1989 after spending 12 years on Capitol Hill as majority counsel to a House Agriculture Subcommittee.

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“Jim Johnson has been a consummate professional during his long, storied career, and he has guided us for nearly three decades,” said Flegenheimer, who is the senior member of the association's board of trustees.  “There is not a sugar farmer, processor, miller or refiner in this country who does not owe Jim a debt of gratitude for his knowledge, his friendship, and his tireless work.” 

The US Beet Sugar Association was founded in 1911 in Washington, D.C., to represent the nation's beet sugar manufacturers. It currently represents nine farmer-owned cooperatives that operate 22 factories processing sugarbeets grown in 11 states. 

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