USDA could soon have a new chief scientist. President Trump says he plans to nominate Scott Hutchins, the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience, as the department’s undersecretary for research, education and economics. Hutchins, an entomologist, also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska. Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis was originally nominated for the USDA post but withdrew in the face of heavy Senate opposition. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue praised Trump’s latest choice and called on the Senate Agriculture Committee to quickly approve the nominee.

President Donald Trump named Indiana agriculture leader Kip Tom to be the U.S. representative in Rome to the U.N. World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Tom is chairman of Tom Farms, which has operations in northern Indiana and Argentina. He served on Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during the 2016 campaign and met with the president-elect in January 2017 during Trump’s search for an agriculture secretary. The Rome position has been vacant since 2016, when David J. Lane, a nominee of President Barack Obama, left the post.

Congratulations to John Newton and Sarah Brown Dirkes on their promotions at the American Farm Bureau Federation. Newton, former director of market intelligence, is now AFBF’s chief economist. Newton, who holds a doctorate in ag economics from Ohio State, joined AFBF in 2016. He previously served as an economist with USDA, held a fellowship with the Senate Agriculture Committee and worked as chief economist with the National Milk Producers Federation. Dirkes was promoted to a new role, executive director of industry relations. The Cornell University alum joined the Farm Bureau in 2014 as director of external relations.

Gaoning “Frank” Ning, recently appointed chair of China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), was elected this week as Syngenta’s board chairman. He succeeds Jianxin Ren, who retired from the board on July 16. Since December 2015, Ning has also served as chairman of the Sinochem Group Co. Jürg Witmer, lead independent director of Syngenta AG., said Ren will be remembered as the principal architect of the successful acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina.

Gay Anderson is the new president of the School Nutrition Association. She was installed in the post for the 2018-2019 school year at SNA’s recent annual national conference. Anderson is child nutrition director for the Brandon Valley School District in South Dakota. As SNA’s president, she will represent the organization’s 57,000 school nutrition professional members nationwide.

Keith Gray, vice president of supply chain at Riviana Foods, was elected chairman of the USA Rice Millers’ Association at the USA Rice July business meeting. Keith Glover, president and CEO of Producers Rice Mill, was elected vice chairman. Each will serve two-year terms starting Aug. 1. The USA Rice Political Action Committee also re-elected California rice farmer Sean Doherty as chairman and Mississippi rice farmer Kirk Satterfield as vice chair.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed 13 individuals to fill vacancies on the 37-member National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. Named to serve three-year terms expiring Oct. 31, 2021, are: Warren Chamberlain, Ore., Region 1; Brad Scott, Calif., Region 2; Pauline Tjaarda, Calif., Region 2; David Jackson, Texas, Region 4; Deb Vander Kooi, Minn., Region 5; Evan Hillan, Wis., Region 6; Randy Roecker, Wis., Region 6; Doug Carroll, Iowa, Region 7; Kim Korn, Idaho, Region 8; Cynthia Adam, Ind., Region 9; David Pyle, Md., Region 11; and Patricia Bikowsky, N.Y., Region 12. Perdue also appointed Michael Oosten, Calif., Region 2, to serve a vacant term expiring Oct. 31, 2019.

The Environmental Defense Fund hired Katie McGinty as the senior vice president of its Oceans program. McGinty is the former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and also served as an environmental adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

Jordan Langdon has left the office of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., where she was deputy communications director, for an account-director position with the public affairs firm Purple Strategies. The University of Texas-Austin grad previously worked in the press operations of California Reps. Jeff Denham and Paul Cook.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association will soon have a new executive director. Sarah Alexander assumes that role Aug. 13, succeeding Ted Quaday, who announced his plan to retire late last year. Alexander moved to Maine in 2015 and has been working as a strategist coaching progressive nonprofits. She previously spent nearly 10 years at Food & Water Watch, where she worked to protect organic standards, strengthen consumer labeling and advocated for labeling of genetically engineered food products.

U.S. Grains Council hired Michael Lu to succeed Clover Chang as director of its office in Taiwan. Chang is retiring Aug. 10 after 34 years of service with the Grains Council. Prior to joining USGC, Lu worked for Cargill in Taiwan as the assistant general manager in charge of grains, oilseeds, oils and the non-grain feed ingredients business.

AgEagle Aerial Systems, a provider of drone imagery data analytics, appointed Barrett Mooney as its CEO. Mooney previously served as group product lead for The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer. He succeeds the company’s founder, Bret Chilcott, who will remain at AgEagle as chairman and president overseeing its precision ag business.

South Dakota-based Legend Seeds is promoting Tim Bratland to president effective Aug. 1, replacing Glen Davis, who is moving into the role of CEO. Bratland has been involved with Legend Seeds since its beginnings in 1990 when he started cleaning seed for Legend's owners, Glen and Janet Davis. He is currently serving as general manager.

Sanah Baig has signed on as adviser to the executive director of the Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based meat, dairy and egg substitutes. The University of Virginia alumna previously was program director for economic development, resilience and transportation at the National Association of Counties and also served as an adviser to former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Tim Arbeiter was chosen to lead Missouri’s Broadband Development Office, which was established earlier this year as a partnership between the departments of Agriculture and Economic Development to build and strengthen partnerships between public and private stakeholders, and align efforts statewide to improve broadband access. An FCC report shows that 1.25 million Missourians – or 20 percent -- don’t have access to high-speed Internet and most of those citizens reside in rural communities.

Western Growers selected Steve Patricio to receive its Award of Honor, citing his extensive contributions to the agricultural community. Patricio led the creation of the first-ever mandatory food safety compliance program for the California cantaloupe industry and helped raise millions of dollars to fund research geared toward preventing foodborne illness. “Steve has been a tireless advocate for agriculture, and his ability to turn some of the most tumultuous challenges that our industry has faced over the past few decades into opportunities is unmatched,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “He has already left a tremendous legacy as someone who shoulders the responsibility of igniting change that advances the industry as a whole.” The award will be presented during Western Growers annual meeting on Oct. 30 in Palm Desert, Calif.

Our condolences go out to the family of Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota on the death of his father, Lauren Peterson, Saturday at the age of 98. Lauren Peterson was a farmer who raised a family of eight children in rural Minnesota. His wife, Della, to whom he’d been married for nearly 65 years, died in 2008.

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