A big change is coming up soon on the Senate Appropriations Committee with 80-year-old Chairman Thad Cochran set to retire at the end of the month. The powerful position, however, most likely will be filled by another Southerner, 83-year-old Richard Shelby of Alabama, presently the third-ranking Republican on the panel, behind Cochran and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Shelby says he’s hoping to get the assignment, but “you have to go through the process,” noting Cochran “doesn’t leave until April 1. If tapped for Appropriations, Shelby would have to give up his present chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee.

Andrew Liveris is stepping down as executive chairman of DowDuPont in April, and as a director in July, when he officially retires. Jeff Fettig, a longtime independent director, will become executive chairman, the company said. Jim Fitterling will lead the materials-science company, to be created during a planned breakup next year. DowDuPont will break itself into three distinct companies after a successful merger between Dow and DuPont last year valued at close to $70 billion. Liveris announced two years ago he'd retire by mid-2017, but that was delayed until a successor was named to head its materials-science division. Liveris, who has led Dow Chemical Co. for 14 years, guided the company through a severe spike in energy prices in 2007-08, as well as the global economic crisis that followed, almost upending the company founded late in the 19th century.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture hired Blake Ramsey as manager for its international trade programs. In the new role, Ramsey will advance small and medium-sized U.S. food and beverage businesses at NASDA’s two domestic food trade shows funded by a cooperative agreement with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Ramsey, who holds a master’s in agribusiness from Texas A&M, formerly interned on the NASDA team and also interned with the U.S. Commercial Service UK at the U.S. Embassy in London.

Chelsea Woodey is the new senior manager of government affairs for Kraft Heinz. She previously worked at the American Frozen Food Institute and at the International Dairy Foods Association.

Congratulations to Wisconsin dairy farmer Patty Edelburg, who was elected vice president of the National Farmers Union at NFU’s recent annual convention in Kansas City, Mo. She replaces Donn Teske, Kansas Farmers Union president, who’s held the post since 2014. There are also several new statewide presidents who are joining the NFU board including Tom Coudron (Missouri), Mark Gibbons (Utah), and Charlotte Smith (Oregon).

Michael Schutz has been chosen to run the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. Schutz is currently the assistant director of Extension at Purdue University, where he oversees Extension Program Leaders for Agriculture and Natural Resources. Schutz starts the new job in June.

The Global Child Nutrition Foundation recently presented Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts with its 2018 Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes the Kansas Republican’s “decades of work to ensure child nutrition and fight global hunger.” The Foundation cited Roberts’ work on the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programs, among other programs.

The American Soybean Association honored Ray Gaesser, from Corning, Iowa, with its Distinguished Leadership Award. The award recognizes a soybean grower or association staff member whose leadership has strengthened the national or state association, enhanced soy-related policy efforts and increased farmer education or engagement. The award was presented during the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif. Gaesser served several years on the ASA Board, and was president in 2013-14. ASA also recognized E. James Dunphy, from Raleigh, N.C., with its Pinnacle Award. The honor recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and leadership within the soybean family and industry, through work involving a significant amount of their lifetime. Dunphy is a professor of crop science and soybean extension specialist at North Carolina State University. He’s served the soybean industry for nearly 50 years as a teacher, a top-notch researcher and an exemplary extension specialist.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has chosen Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., to receive its Golden Plow award, AFBF’s highest honor given to a sitting member of Congress. The South Dakota Farm Bureau endorsed Noem for the award because of her commitment in Congress to issues important to farmers and ranchers, including her “fearless advocacy” in the fight against the estate tax.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented Dr. Liz Wagstrom, the chief vet for the National Pork Producers Council, with its meritorious service award. Wagstrom, who has been with NPPC since 2011, is a former associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Agriculture Future of America is welcoming six new directors to its board. They are: Kip Tom, Tom Farms LLC; Travis Becton, John Deere; David Nothmann, Valent U.S.A.; Scott Kay, BASF; and Rolando Flores, New Mexico State University. Retiring from the board are Carol Keiser-Long, C-ARC Enterprises; Thomas Payne, University of Missouri, retired; Bob Timmons, John Deere; and Ben Kaehler, DowDuPont. AFA helps young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture. AFA leader development programs have affected 17,000 college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 43 states since its inception in 1996.

Pearse Lyons, the founder and president of the multibillion-dollar agribusiness Alltech, died March 8 at the age of 73. While recovering from heart surgery, he developed an acute lung condition that took his life. In the late 1970s, Lyons immigrated to the United States from Ireland with a vision of sustaining the planet by applying his yeast fermentation expertise to agricultural challenges. That vision came to life in his home garage with a $10,000 investment. The Kentucky-based company today employs more than 5,000 people around the world, focusing on animal, crop and human health through its innovative use of yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics.

George Sinner, who served as North Dakota's governor during one of the state's roughest economic times, died March 9 at the age of 89. A father of 10, Sinner became a well-known Democrat, serving in the state Legislature in the 1960s and early '80s before winning the race for governor in 1984. His campaign included a TV commercial that showed a farmer pitching cow manure, which Sinner compared to his opponent's campaign statements. His administration, from 1985 through 1992, spanned one of the roughest periods in North Dakota's economy. The state was hit hard by drought in the late 1980s, and slumping oil prices turned a western North Dakota boom into a bust. In 1990, Sinner endorsed a special day of prayer on the state Capitol grounds to pray for rain.

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