WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2017 - Sam Clovis’ already rocky road to confirmation as USDA’s chief scientist just got a bit rockier, after his name surfaced in the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Clovis, now the White House liaison to USDA, is already facing strong opposition from some Democrats over remarks he made while serving as a conservative radio commentator, prior to his time working for President Trump. Still, the president is sticking with Clovis’ USDA nomination. “I’m not aware that any change would be necessary at this time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday when asked about Clovis. His nomination hearing is expected later this month.
Greg Ibach is finally USDA’s new undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. The former Nebraska ag director was sworn in yesterday in Omaha by his new boss, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Bill Northey’s fate is a different story. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday he has no plans to lift his hold on the Iowa Ag Secretary’s nomination for a USDA undersecretary position. Seems Cruz isn’t happy with commitments made by the Trump administration to Iowa political leaders on biofuel issues.
The National Association of Wheat Growers is looking for a new president. NAWG says David Schemm has resigned from the post to pursue professional opportunities in his home state of Kansas. The organization’s CEO, Chandler Goule, says NAWG past president Gordon Stoner of Montana will fill in as president until the next officer election at the 2018 Commodity Classic, Feb. 27-March 1, in Anaheim, California.
The National Chicken Council promoted Harrison Kircher to the position of vice president of government affairs. Kircher joined NCC in 2011 and has spent time as a government affairs associate and director of the council’s legislative team, with a broad portfolio that includes agriculture, international trade, energy and environmental issues.
Angie Snyder was named acting deputy administrator over the Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program in USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. She’ll be temporarily filling the job that Craig Morris vacated when he moved to the National Pork Board as its vice president of international marketing. Snyder had been serving as Morris’ top deputy at LPS.
Elin Miller, who owns the UmpquaNut hazelnut farm and Umpqua Vineyards in Oregon, was named board chair of Cultivating New Frontier in Agriculture. She replaces John J. Cavanaugh, a former U.S. representative from Nebraska who has chaired the board since 2014. Miller formerly served several leadership positions at Dow Chemical Co., including global vice president of public affairs, vice president of pest management, and vice president Asia Pacific. Among her government positions, she served as a regional administrator with EPA, with oversight of Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. CNFA works with businesses, foundations, governments and communities to build customized local and global partnerships that meet the world’s growing demand for food.
Rabo AgriFinance named Sarah Kolell as Vice President, Marketing and Communications. In this role, Kolell will oversee the team who leads the marketing, internal and external communications, digital and public relations for Rabobank North America’s rural business. Prior to Rabo AgriFinance, Kolell led the Public Relations team at AdFarm and has worked at Hallmark Cards, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and as a local news anchor and reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Northwestern and a master’s degree in Business from the University of Kansas.
The board of directors of the National Cooperative Business Association appointed Doug O'Brien as the association’s next president and CEO, effective Jan. 1. He’ll replace Judy Ziewacz, who is retiring. O’Brien joined NCBA in November 2016 as executive vice president for programs. He’d previously served as senior adviser for rural affairs on the White House Domestic Policy Council and as acting undersecretary for Rural Development at USDA.
Agriculture Future of America will present its Leader in Agriculture Award to A.G. Kawamura at a dinner in Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov.3. The California produce farmer and co-chair of Solutions from the Land is being honored for his “contributions to the industry and his record of supporting career and leader development for young men and women in agriculture.” Kawamura, a former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is currently engaged in building an interactive 100-acre agricultural showcase at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California … AFA is also honoring Joel Mathiowetz, a fifth-generation Minnesota farmer who raises corn, soybeans, peas and lambs, with its Young Leader in Agriculture Award. Mathiowetz is also a crop insurance agent and the executive director of the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.
The U.S. Grains Council is boosting its overseas sales staff. Tim Tierney is the new director of strategic marketing for ethanol, North Asia, based in Singapore. He previously was employed by Syngenta and DuPont. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Council for more than 10 years as director in Japan, director of international operations based in Washington, and as a trade servicer. USGC also hired Caleb Wurth as assistant director of its Southeast Asia regional office in Kuala Lumpur. He most recently worked with ADM, gaining experience marketing corn and corn co-products to feedlots and working on containerized grain export logistics … Meanwhile, Anne Zaczek has left USGC, where she was manager of global development programs, directing the council’s program in Tanzania. Zaczek joined USGC in 2010 as the international operations coordinator.
Funeral services will be held Nov. 2 in Arenzville, Illinois, for Thomas M. Burrus, president and CEO of Burrus Seed, who died Oct. 28 at the age of 68. Burrus worked at the company, which was founded in 1935, full-time starting in 1971 after graduating from Illinois College.
Russell “Russ” Mawby, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation from 1970 until his retirement in 1995, died at the age of 89 on Oct. 20. Previously, the Purdue graduate worked on the Michigan State faculty, rising to assistant director of the Cooperative Extension Service. Among other roles, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and on the J. M. Smucker Co.’s board of directors. He was also a former Grand President of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity where he is listed in the AGR Hall of Fame.