Rep. Darrell Issa has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. The announcement comes just weeks before the Republican retires from the House after nine terms representing the 49th Congressional District in Southern California. Issa may face a tough confirmation battle in the Senate, where his party holds the slimmest of majorities. A former chair of the House Oversight Committee, Issa earned enemies among Democrats by, among other things, accusing President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of covering up mismanagement during the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

There’s a big shakeup going on at Louis Dreyfus Co., one of the world’s biggest agribusinesses. Both the CEO, Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena, and chief financial officer, Armand Lumens, have stepped down, Martiarena to pursue “other opportunities,” and Lumens “for personal reasons,” the Amsterdam-based company said Tuesday. Martiarena had been with the company for 13 years and in charge of LDC for three years. The new CEO – Ian McIntosh – is a 32-year veteran of the organization and was most recently CEO and chief investment officer of the company’s Edesia Asset Management subsidiary, prior to its closure earlier this year. Federico Cerisoli, the former deputy CFO, was appointed CFO. The resignations are sparking speculation that the company is preparing to announce poor first half results next month or there has been a rift over the strategic direction of the business.

Michael Dolch is the new public affairs director for the Iowa Soybean Association. An Iowa native, he previously served as legislative assistant for Joni Ernst, the state’s junior U.S. senator, handling agriculture, trade and biofuels policy. Before that, the Iowa State grad worked for Syngenta in federal government relations.

Sarah Gallo is leaving farmer co-op CHS for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. BIO says Gallo will be joining its Food & Ag team effective Oct. 11 as director of market access. Gallo has been director of federal affairs at CHS for the past five years. She has also worked as director of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association and as ag counsel to the House Small Business Committee.

Susanne Wasson, the president for the Crop Protection business platform for Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, was selected as the chair of the CropLife America board of directors. Wasson will hold the position for two years, helping to guide the association while working with newly hired president and CEO Chris Novak.

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte was elected president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture for the coming year at NASDA’s recent annual meeting in Hartford, Conn. White will host the group’s next annual meeting Sept. 8-12 in Albuquerque. Also elected to NASDA’s board were North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring (Vice President), Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (Second Vice President), and New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball (Secretary-Treasurer). Click here to see a complete list of new NASDA officers.

Former Bayer CropScience CEO Jim Blome was appointed chief executive of Calyxt Inc., a Minnesota-based company that is about to commercially launch its first product, a high oleic soybean oil. He starts the new job Oct. 1. The Iowa State alum also serves as chairman of CropLife America, chairman of U.S. Farming and Ranching Foundation, and the independent, non-executive, chairman of Concentric Ag Technologies, Inc.

Congratulations to Ann Blount on being named Florida’s Woman of the Year in Agriculture. Blount is a forage breeder who has been with the Institute for Food and Agriculture at the University of Florida for 30 years. Adam Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner, says Blount has dedicated her career to researching and implementing innovative techniques to improve fall forage production in Florida’s southern coastal regions. The award will be presented during the Florida State Fair in Tampa in February.

Bill Buckner says he’s retiring as president and CEO of the Noble Research Institute at the end of the year. Buckner, who’s been at of the helm of the Oklahoma-based institution for the past seven years, says he wants to return home to North Carolina and spend time with his children and grandchildren. He also plans to continue to serve on the Noble board of directors by shepherding two key initiatives – the Ecosystem Services Market project and the Soil Health Institute. “These two projects are critical to agriculture and I’m going to devote the remainder of my career to ensuring their success,” he says.

COUNTRY Financial named Jim Jacobs, of Bloomington, Ill., as its next chief executive officer, effective in early 2019. He’ll succeed Kurt Bock, who is retiring Jan. 31 after holding the CEO post for seven years. Jacobs has served as general counsel, secretary and chief legal officer for COUNTRY Financial, the Illinois Farm Bureau and other affiliated companies since 2008.

Sarah Grady was appointed to fill an open seat on the United Fresh Board of Directors. Grady is the U.S. strategic supply chain manager at McDonald’s Corporation for Produce, Fruit, Potato & Beverage categories. On the board, Grady replaces Shannon Mikulskis of Chick-fil-A, who resigned due to a change in her time availability to participate in meetings.

Edith Kelly-Green is the newest member of the board of directors of poultry producer Sanderson Farms Inc. Kelly-Green is a partner in The KGR Group, whose primary interests are investments in Lenny’s Grill and Subs restaurant franchises. Lenny’s has about 150 locations throughout the  Southeastern U.S. Prior to starting the KGR Group in 2005, she worked for FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., where she served in many roles including vice president and chief sourcing officer.

Sarah Thorn has joined States Strategies as a senior adviser. Thorn had been running her own public affairs consultancy for the past four years. Prior to that, she worked for DuPont Pioneer in its government affairs group. Much of her work at the company was focused on biotechnology acceptance in the states, at the national level, and in Canada.

The American Seed Trade Association hired Abigail Struxness as senior director of International Programs & Policy. Struxness joins ASTA from the Agriculture Transportation Coalition where she served as policy and program manager since 2013. Before that she worked at the Washington International Trade Association and at Business Oregon’s International Trade Office in Portland.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, a former top executive at Walmart, takes over as CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, on Oct. 1. Babineaux-Fontenot held key leadership roles at Walmart during her nearly 13 years with the retail giant, ascending to executive vice president of finance and treasurer. Feeding America provides more than four billion meals to people facing hunger in the U.S. each year through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named Lesia Oesterreich from Iowa State University as the winner of the 2018 Excellence in Extension Award, and Ronald Cox Jr. from Oklahoma State University, as the winner of the National Extension Diversity Award. Both honors, along with Regional Excellence in Extension Awards, will be presented at a ceremony on Nov. 11 in New Orleans during APLU’s 131st Annual Meeting. Click here to see a fuller description of the awards and a list of regional Excellence in Extension award winners.

Michael Frohlich is the new director of public affairs with Rational 360, a D-C-based public relations agency. In the past, the Gettysburg College alum has served in top communications jobs with Growth Energy, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Biodiesel Board, and most recently, with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.

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