A key member of Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s leadership team is finally on board. Bill Northey was sworn in last night by Perdue as undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service at the Iowa Ag Leaders Dinner in Des Moines. Northey has served as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture since 2007. Gov. Kim Reynolds named Northey’s deputy, Mike Naig, as his successor.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is getting some crucial help as his office continues renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and chases new trade deals in Asia and elsewhere. The Senate this week confirmed Jeff Gerrish as Lighthizer’s top deputy. Gerrish has been leading the international trade group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & From. Last week, the Senate approved Gregg Doud as the USTR’s chief agriculture negotiator, Dennis Shea as the agency’s top official at the World Trade Organization, and C. J. Mahoney as deputy USTR responsible for trade in Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere.

National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn announced plans to resign from his key White House post, just days after President Donald Trump said he would impose steel and aluminum tariffs that Cohn had opposed. The loss of Cohn at the White House is a potentially significant blow to U.S. agriculture in the struggle over the administration’s trade policy.

Sen. Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who is also a member of the Agriculture Committee, says he will resign his seat on April 1, citing ailing health. The remainder of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s term, which expires in 2020, will be filled by a non-partisan special election in conjunction with the regularly-scheduled general election. In the interim, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint an interim senator. Cochran was first elected to the Senate in 1978 and had previously served three terms in the House. The state's other senator, Republican Roger Wicker, is also up for re-election this year.

Farm bill veteran Tamara Hinton has joined Story Partners as senior vice president, charged with leading the firm’s growing farm, food, and trade practice. Hinton served as communications director and spokesperson for the House Agriculture Committee under the leadership of Reps. Frank Lucas and Bob Goodlatte. In this role, she developed and executed the communications strategy for the reauthorization of the 2014 farm bill. Before joining Story Partners, the former broadcast reporter and Peace Corps volunteer founded her own boutique communications firm that focused on a variety of agricultural and financial-services policy issues.

Jimmie Musick, who farms in southwest Oklahoma, has assumed the presidency of the National Association of Wheat Growers, succeeding Gordon Stoner, who will continue to serve on NAWG’s executive committee in the role of past president. Musick had been the group’s vice president. Texan Ben Scholz is now vice president and Dave Milligan is serving as treasurer. Nicole Berg, from Paterson, Wash., became the newest face on the NAWG leadership with her election as secretary. Additionally, the National Wheat Foundation added Kim Magin, director of industry affairs for Monsanto, to its board, replacing Ryan Findlay, who is now CEO of the American Soybean Association. Idaho wheat farmer Wayne Hurst has also moved up the ranks to replace Phil McLain of North Carolina as President.

President Trump nominated Peter C. Wright to serve as EPA's assistant administrator for Land and Emergency Management. Wright has worked as a corporate lawyer at Dow Chemical Co. since 1999. At EPA, Wright will be running the agency that oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the country’s most toxic sites. Wright would also oversee the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program … The president is also tapping Theodore Garrish of Maryland to be assistant secretary of energy for international affairs. Garrish has served at the Energy Department as general counsel and later as assistant secretary for nuclear energy. Earlier in his career he founded Wild Goose Brewery in Cambridge, Md. 

The National Pork Board has honored former Iowa State animal science professor Tom Bass with its Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes “lifelong contribution to the pork industry.” The award was presented during the recent National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, Mo. NPB and the National Pork Producers Council also presented Dick Isler, former state executive of the Ohio Pork Council, with the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award, which recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork executives. In addition, NPB named Emma Lasco and Christine Snowden, both from Iowa, as the 2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow. The award honors farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and who are committed to raising pigs using the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles.

Amy Karpel’s nomination to serve as a member of the International Trade Commission has been sent to the Senate. Karpel has been chief counsel for negotiations and administrative law with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office for more than four years. She would replace F. Scott Kieff, who resigned.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed 11 members and 10 alternates to serve on the American Egg Board. Nine member-appointees and nine alternates will serve two-year terms. Three appointees -- two members and one alternate -- will serve the remaining one-year portion of vacant positions. Click here to see a list of the appointees. Check out the American Egg Board website for more information.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) hired Sara Arsenault as its meetings coordinator and executive assistant to the CEO. Arsenault, who will graduate this spring from Texas A&M with a degree in animal science, will lead coordination of NASDA’s two annual national conferences and all engagement with the CEO and the board of directors. Arsenault has also worked in the office of Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

Eric Halverson is the new board chairman for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Halverson is CEO of Black Gold Farms, based in Grand Forks N.D. He succeeds Greg Campbell, the co-owner of Campbell Farms with headquarters in Grafton, N.D.

Peter Kelley has left the American Wind Energy Association after serving AWEA for eight years as vice president for public affairs. The Harvard alum is now re-launching RenewComm LLC, a PR firm for green energy companies.

Art Cullen, editor and co-owner of the Storm Lake (Iowa) Times, has scheduled Oct. 2 for the release of his book, Storm Lake, by Penguin Random House. Cullen, who won a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his editorials trying to protect an Iowa river from pollution by big livestock operations, told attendees at the National Farmers Union convention that the book is about “change, resilience and hope” in rural life and agriculture in the heartland. “Sustainable agriculture is really catching on, and I think that is tremendously important,” he said.