Wendy Brannen is the new director of policy communication for the American Soybean Association, working out of ASA’s Washington office. Brannen joins ASA after two years as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission in California. She previously directed consumer health marketing and public relations at the U.S. Apple Association and served as executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee. Brannen replaces Patrick Delaney, who left ASA in April to join the House Agriculture Committee as the Democratic communications director.

The American Meat Science Association has chosen Mindy Brashears, who’s been nominated as USDA’s undersecretary for food safety, as the recipient of its Distinguished Research Award for 2018. The award was established in 1965 to recognize members with outstanding research contributions to the meat industry and is sponsored by ConAgra Brands. Brashears will be honored at a special awards banquet at AMSA’s 71st Reciprocal Meat Conference on June 26 in Kansas City, Mo. Brashears is currently the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University and holds the Roth and Letch Family Endowed Chair in Food Safety. Her research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health.

Good luck to Linda Sieh, who recently retired from USA Rice after 16 years of service, the last four as the group’s chief financial officer. Sieh began her career at USA Rice as director for Human Resources and Administration, and two years later, was promoted to VP, finance and administration. Sieh says the one thing she won’t miss in retirement is driving in D.C. in rush hour traffic.

Mike Robach, Cargill’s global vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory, is planning to retire on Aug. 1. Robach joined Cargill in 2004. Sean Leighton, who has served as a food safety and quality leader at Cargill since 2017, will assume Robach’s role as global vice president after the retirement. 

The American Seed Trade Association has released its proposed slate of officers for FY 2018-2019. The nominations are: Chair – Jerry Flint, Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont; First Vice Chair – Wayne Gale, Stokes Seeds; Second Vice Chair – John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds; Western Region Vice President – Rick Falconer, Rijk Zwaan; and North Central Vice President - John Romines, WinField Solutions. Voting will take place on June 11 at the opening general session of the ASTA Policy & Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. 

Betsy Armour is the new director of marketing and communication outreach for the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. Armour has nearly 20 years of marketing experience, previously working for Northern Crops Institute, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

CHS appointed Chris Cairo as vice president of the Eastern Region of its Country Operations Division. Most recently, Cairo managed a retail business unit in Rochester, Minn.

Joe Mayer, a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture, died this past weekend after suffering a heart attack. He was 68. Mayer was a recent appointee to the board, having served in his first meeting on May 8. Mayer received many awards during his lifetime, including the Oklahoma Governor's Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture Award. He also served on the USDA Farm Services Association Committee under Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Our condolences go out to the family of Sue Daoulas, the director of special projects at the American Farm Bureau Federation, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 60 following a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. An Indiana native, Daoulas had joined AFBF in August 2015. Her career included an eight-year stint working for the White House as a drug policy analyst in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. She also worked as an intern in the office of then-Rep. Dan Quayle of Indiana in 1978. A service of remembrance is planned for Sunday, July 1, at 11:30 a.m. at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 2815 36th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

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