Sources say Kenneth Isley is about to be named the new chief of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Isley is currently an adviser with DowDuPont’s Agriculture Division based in Indianapolis. As head of FAS, Isley, who started with Dow Chemical Co. back in 1989, will oversee a network of 93 offices in 171 countries where agricultural attachés and locally hired experts act as the eyes, ears and voice of U.S. agriculture around the world.

President Trump selected Jim Hubbard, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service, to be USDA’s undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. In the past, Hubbard has served as a deputy chief for state and private forestry at USFS and as director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination with the Interior Department. USDA chief Sonny Perdue says Hubbard’s service with USFS and Interior “makes him exceptionally qualified for this post, and I am eager to have Jim join the team.”

The Senate last week confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a lobbyist with close ties to the coal industry, to be the number-two official at the Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to his lobbying work, Wheeler served as a Republican staff member for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and as a top aide to Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, an outspoken climate change skeptic who told CNN last month the EPA is "brainwashing our kids."

Darci Vetter has joined Edelman as general manager for public affairs in the PR giant’s D.C. office. Vetter, a former chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative and a deputy undersecretary of agriculture at USDA, will be working to “spearhead the firm’s push to strengthen its support to clients in the commodities, supply chain, agribusiness and global trade arenas,” Edelman said.

There’s a new communications director for the Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee. He’s Patrick Delaney, who’s been director of policy communications for the American Soybean Association since 2011. Delaney succeeds Liz Friedlander, who held the position for almost eight years. Friedlander is moving to the National Corn Growers Association where she is the new Director of Policy Communications.

The White House says President Trump plans to nominate Dan Berkovitz, a partner at law firm WilmerHale, to fill a Democratic vacancy on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Berkovitz is co-chair of the firm’s futures and derivatives practice and served as the CFTC’s general counsel from 2009 to 2013. A Republican, derivatives lobbyist Dawn Stump, was nominated to the agency in June but action on the nomination was stalled in the Senate until it could be paired with a Democrat. Confirmation of the two nominees would bring the CFTC back to its full complement of five members … The president also plans to nominate Bonnie Glick to be deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Glick, a former State Department diplomat, is now deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., named Michael Needham, the CEO of the conservative think tank Heritage Action for America, as his new chief of staff. Rubio says Needham will complement his office’s goal of serving the people of Florida and “leading the effort to modernize the conservative movement in the 21st century.” Rubio’s last chief of staff was fired in January amid allegations of improper conduct.

The American Farm Bureau Federation promoted Lynne Finnerty to the position of executive director for presidential initiatives. Finnerty has been with AFBF for almost 17 years, most recently as director of executive communications and projects. She previously worked at USDA, as director of legislative affairs for the Foreign Agriculture Service and in the Office of the Secretary.

Emily Meredith, chief of staff at the National Milk Producers Federation, is leaving NMPF to take a senior corporate public affairs position with Genus PLC. The London-based animal genetics company owns ABS Global (dairy genetics) and PIC (pork genetics) in the U.S. With Genus, Meredith will be managing the rollout of a new line of pigs that are gene-edited to be resistant to the deadly PRRS virus. A Seton Hall law school grad, has been with NMPF since November 2014.

Congratulations to Jewel Bronaugh on being named Virginia’s 16th Commissioner of Agriculture. She comes to the position from Virginia State University where she was executive director of VSU’s Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement and Outreach. Before that, she was head of VSU’s College of Agriculture. She also served as state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Stephen Brobeck is retiring as executive director of the Consumer Federation of America after 38 years of service. Brobeck will be succeeded by Jack Gillis, CFA’s long-standing director of public affairs. Brobeck will continue on the job until June 20, the day of CFA’s annual awards dinner. He then plans to pursue his research interests as a CFA senior fellow. 

John Deep Ford of Guyana has taken over as chair of the WTO farm trade talks, succeeding Kenya’s Stephen Ndung’u Karau. WTO members confirmed Ford’s  appointment at a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture on April 9. In addition to the ongoing negotiations on agricultural reform, Ford will also facilitate negotiations on cotton. Ford has a doctorate in ag economics from Purdue University and more than 30 years of experience as an economist in the areas of agricultural trade and food policy.

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