Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., hired Robert Rosado as the panel’s senior professional staff responsible for nutrition, specialty crops and organics. Before joining the committee, Rosado served for nearly seven years as the Food Marketing Institute’s director of government relations. He has also worked for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and for USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The Renewable Fuels Association is welcoming Jessica Bennett as its new vice president of external affairs. Bennett joins RFA from the National Corn Growers Association where she served as director of renewable fuels. She also previously worked at Bunge North America as director of government policy.

Kurt Kovarik is joining the National Biodiesel Board as the new vice president of federal affairs. Kovarik had been working for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for the last decade, most recently as legislative director.

Matt Herrick has joined the Rockefeller Foundation in New York as managing director of communications. The new job will have Herrick once again working for Rajiv Shah who a year ago was named the Foundation’s president. The two had previously worked together while Shah headed up the U.S. Agency for International Development. Herrick has also worked as communications director for USDA and Oxfam America. Most recently, he served as senior vice president with Story Partners public affairs in Washington, where he founded and managed the agency’s food practice.

Good luck to Judy Rude, a public affairs specialist with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, who is retiring today after 51 years of service with USDA. Rude started way back in 1966 as a secretary-stenographer with the Agricultural Research Service. Rude says she plans to keep busy during retirement exploring her family’s genealogy and catching up on her reading. “I’ve got 70 some books by Agatha Christie back home waiting for me,” Rude told Agri-Pulse.

Dennis Erpelding retired last week after 28 years at Elanco – Eli Lilly and Co. For the past four years, Erpelding has been serving as the company’s director of international food safety standards and policy.

Three USDA employees have been honored as Presidential Rank Award winners for 2017. Jere Dick, associate administrator of APHIS, was recognized with a Distinguished Rank Award for, among other things, his role in response efforts to the 2015 avian flu epidemic as well as his work in developing USDA’s new feral swine control program. The award is something of a going-away present for Dick, who retired at the end of the year. Cyril Gay was also honored. Gay, who has led the USDA-ARS Animal Health National Program for 15 years, received the Meritorious Professional award in part for work in vaccinology and biodefense research. Jerry Hatfield, director of ARS’ National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa, received the Meritorious Professional award for his extensive research on agriculture’s influence on environmental quality. The award program recognizes senior career employees for exceptional performance over an extended period.

Alexis Strieker has joined the Equipment Dealers Association’s government relations team. The Southeast Missouri State grad had previously worked in one of Sen. Roy Blunt’s campaigns and served as a Congressional Fellow for Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

Scott Stuart will be taking the reins of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board as of Feb. 1. He is currently president and CEO of the National Livestock Producers Association, which comprises several regional livestock marketing co-ops. Stuart will succeed Polly Ruhland, who served as CEO for six years before accepting a similar position at the United Soybean Board in November. Katherine Ayers, CBB's chief financial officer, has been acting CEO during this transition… Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has appointed 27 members to the CBB, which administers the beef checkoff. Click here to see a list of the new board members.

Cathy Stepp has been appointed regional administrator for EPA’s Region 5, which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. She had been principal deputy regional administrator for Region 7, which covers Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Before joining EPA Stepp served as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

South Dakota State University’s agriculture college has a new dean. He’s John Killefer, who’s been at the head of the animal sciences department at Oregon State University for the past five years. Killefer succeeds Barry Dunn, who became SDSU’s president in May.

Adam Jorde has left the staff of Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., where he was communications director, for NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association, where he’s now director of government relations. NTCA has also hired Michael Daniels, previously with the Rural Health Care Program at the Universal Service Administration Co., as a director of government affairs. 

At the same time, Jason Stverak is rejoining Cramer’s office as deputy chief of staff. He’ll also be responsible for communications and will serve as Cramer’s foreign policy adviser. A former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, Stverak most recently was legislative director for Christians United for Israel Action Fund. He also served as Cramer’s communications director from February 2015 to April 2016.

Christine Heggem is the new chief of staff to Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont. Heggem previously was the House Agriculture Committee's director of coalitions and outreach. She is also a former lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. 

The National Corn Growers Association is welcoming to its D.C. team Katharine Emerson as director of public policy and political strategy, and Colleen Willard as director of public policy. Before joining NCGA, Emerson was director of strategic partnerships at the World Food Program USA. She also managed government affairs at Monsanto for eight years. Willard formerly served as director of government affairs for the Community Associations Institute. She also worked on Capitol Hill for then-U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

Leah Wilkinson has been named to lead the American Feed Industry Association’s Legislative and Regulatory Department starting in 2019. Wilkinson, currently AFIA's vice president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs, will assume the role now held by Richard Sellers, AFIA's senior vice president of public policy and education, following his retirement at the end of 2018. Wilkinson’s new title, effective immediately, is vice president of public policy and education. Wilkinson joined AFIA in 2010 and has been responsible for interacting with state legislatures, feed regulatory agencies in the western U.S. and at the Food and Drug Administration. 

Five Sorghum Checkoff directors were sworn in during the checkoff’s recent board meeting in Lubbock, Texas. Returning to the board are Verity Ulibarri of McAlister, New Mexico, and Carlton Bridgeforth of Tanner, Alabama. Newly appointed to the board are Klint G. Stewart, of Columbus, Nebraska; Shayne C. Suppes of Scott City, Kansas; and Charles Ray Huddleston of Celina, Texas. The newly sworn-in board members were appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in December and will serve three-year terms.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall announced appointments to the organization’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and to its Promotion & Education panel. Joining the YF&R Committee for the 2018-2020 term beginning in March are: Nick Smith, Cushing, Maine; Paul Molesky Jr., Schaghticoke, N.Y.; Dan and Kelly Snipes, Rochester, Ind.; Jarrod and Sarah Bowser, Mayetta, Kan.; Kacie Luckett, Pride, La.; Rachel Pickens, Stillwater, Okla; and Whitney and Lynne Farr, Reidville, S.C. Appointed to the P&E Committee for two-year terms are: Debra Durheim, Long Prairie, Minn.; Mary Fischer, Rockville, Mo.; and Patti Fisher, Madrid, N.Y.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture hired Alex Noffsinger as its coordinator of public policy. A former intern with the minority staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Noffsinger is a recent graduate from Michigan State University’s James Madison College.

Washington State farmer Kevin Riel was selected as the new board chairman for CoBank. Riel succeeds Everett Dobrinski, who farms in North Dakota’s Ward County and who served as CoBank board chair for 10 years.

Andy Jones and Brian Hora have joined the board of directors at GROWMARK. Jones currently serves as board chair at Legacy Farmers Cooperative, an FS company based in Findlay, Ohio. He was appointed as an at-large director representing the co-op’s business in its Eastern Region. Hora, who operates a 650-acre corn and soybean farm in Ainsworth, Iowa, was appointed to the board to represent Iowa and states north and west.

Mary Ledman has joined RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness as a global food strategist for dairy, based in the firm’s Chicago office. Before joining Rabobank, Ledman held positions at USDA, Kraft Foods and Stella. She also founded the economic consulting firm Keough Ledman Associates. She succeeds Kevin Bellamy, who is now Rabobank’s global sector head for dairy.

The Soil Health Partnership has taken on Abigail Peterson as a field manager for southern Illinois and Alex Flock for the same role in northern Indiana. Peterson, an Iowa State grad and a certified crop adviser, joins SHP after two years with DuPont Pioneer. Flock, a Purdue alum, previously worked in seed sales. SHP Director Nick Goeser said the Partnership needed the additional advisers after expanding to 111 farms in 12 states a year ahead of schedule. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint.

Greg Hanes is the new chairman for the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council. Hanes represents the U.S. Meat Export Federation on the USAEDC. At USMEF, Hanes is the assistant vice president for international marketing and programs.

The National Association of Counties hired Fred Wong as its new director of communications. He previously was public engagement adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development. The NYU alum also worked during the Obama administration at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Francis Fluharty is the new head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. He has been working as a research professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State.

Rick Deadwyler Jr. is returning to DuPont to lead state government and industry affairs efforts in the company’s Agriculture business in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern region. Deadwyler most recently served as vice president of community engagement for the Delaware Community Foundation and, before that, as director of government relations for the University of Delaware. His previous tenure at DuPont included roles spanning corporate philanthropy, crisis management and government affairs.

Kenyan-born Harvard professor Calestous Juma, a passionate defender of agricultural biotechnology, died Dec. 15 at the age of 64. He passed away during treatment for an unspecified medical condition in Boston. Juma was an internationally recognized authority in the application of science and technology to sustainable development worldwide. He was a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a director of the school's Science, Technology and Globalization Project. He also ran the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His latest book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011.

CORRECTION. In an item about the deaths of Illinois farmers Ryan and Rory Miller, we misidentified Ryan’s wife, Jill, as the sister of Jon Scholl, a former president of American Farmland Trust and counselor to the administrator of the EPA. Jill Miller is Jon Scholl’s daughter. The quotation in the item should have been attributed to Jay Scholl, Jon Scholl’s son and Jill Miller’s brother.We apologize for the error. Ryan and Rory Miller were killed Dec. 5 when they struck a natural gas pipeline while laying tile on their farm in Lee County, Ill.