The Senate Agriculture Committee scheduled a Nov. 28 hearing on three nominations for top positions at USDA: Mindy Brashears to be undersecretary for food safety; Naomi Earp, to be assistant secretary for civil rights; and Scott Hutchins, to be undersecretary for agriculture, research, education and economics. Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Earp is a retired civil servant who served as chair and vice chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, while Hutchins, an entomologist, has been working for Corteva Agriscience, the newly created ag division of DowDuPont. He started work for Dow in 1987.

Bill Beam is settling into his new job as deputy administrator of farm programs in the Farm Service Agency. Beam is the president and owner of Beam Farms, a fourth-generation row crop, specialty crop and hay operation in Elverson, Pa. He also owns and manages a sawdust trucking business. Beam served on the United Soybean Board for nine years and spent two years on the U.S. Soybean Export Council. He also has held leadership positions with the Pennsylvania Soybean Board. 

Republicans may have finally emerged victorious in the tightly-contested races for governor and U.S. senator from Florida, but Democrat Nikki Fried appears to have come out on top in the battle for state agriculture commissioner. After two recounts, Fried led state Rep. Matt Caldwell by a razor-thin margin of .08 percent, in her bid to become the first woman elected to the post. During the race, Fried stuck closely to three talking points – her three W’s, weapons, weed and water – advocating gun control measures, expanding access to medical marijuana, and protecting the state’s water resources. Fried declared victory on Sunday, and Caldwell conceded on Monday.

The U.S. Grains Council has a new manager of global trade. Reece Cannady was most recently a merchandiser at Attebury Grain, a Council member. Previously, he served as volunteer president of the Financial Literacy Project.

Kelly Wismer, former public relations manager for NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association -- is now doing rural broadband lobbying for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The University of South Dakota grad previously served as a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

Conley Nelson, of Algona, Iowa, will chair the U.S. Meat Export Federation in 2019. A past president of the National Pork Board, Nelson was elected at USMEF’s recent Strategic Planning Conference in Long Beach, Calif. Nelson worked for Smithfield Foods for 35 years and is currently general manager of the company’s hog production division in the five-state Midwest region. Other new officers include Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho (chair-elect); Pat Binger, of Wichita, Kansas, who heads international sales for Cargill Protein Group (vice chair); and Mark Swanson, CEO of Birko Corp., headquartered in Henderson, Colo. (secretary-treasurer).

Robyn Allscheid is returning to the National Corn Growers Association as the director of research and productivity, working out of the St. Louis office. Allscheid previously served at NCGA as manager of research and business development from 2008 to 2010. She will serve as staff lead for the Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team as well as leading NCGA’s research programs. Allscheid comes to NCGA from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center where she ran the lab for the Center’s director, Jim Carrington. Prior to that, she was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, where she implemented $40 million in agricultural programs in the country of Georgia.

Cargill named Brian Sikes to lead its global protein and salt businesses. Sikes began his career at Cargill in 1991. Most recently, he has been leading the development of Cargill’s new North American protein headquarters in Wichita, Kan., which is scheduled for a grand opening on Dec. 6. He succeeds Todd Hall who is retiring after 36 years with the company.

Sreekala Bajwa has been named the new vice president of agriculture at Montana State University. For the past six years, Bajwa has chaired North Dakota State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. When Bajwa starts at MSU in mid-January, she will also be the dean for the College of Agriculture and lead the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.

Michelle “Miki” Bowman, the Kansas State Banking Commissioner, has been confirmed by the Senate to serve on the board of governors of the Federal Reserve. Bowman has been the state banking commissioner since February 2017, the first woman confirmed by the state Senate to that position. A former staff member for Sen. Bob Dole, her experience also includes seven years in community banking as an executive at Farmers and Drovers Bank in Council Grove, Kan.

The White House has withdrawn its nomination of Mark Montgomery to be an assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Montgomery retired from the Navy as a rear admiral in 2017 and spent a year as policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee. No reason was cited for the withdrawal.

John Haley has taken a job in the government relations office of the Tennessee Valley Authority in Washington. Haley formerly was a legislative assistant on the staff of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who chose not to seek a third term in the recent midterm elections.

Michael Sadowsky has joined the board of directors of TerraMax, a leading researcher and manufacturer of microbial bio-stimulants. Sadowsky is the director of the BioTechnology Institute and a Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Climate at the University of Minnesota. Sadowsky holds a PhD in microbiology from the University of Hawaii and an MS in  microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest added former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to its board of directors. Nutter was elected Philadelphia’s mayor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. During his tenure, the city enacted one of the earliest local laws requiring calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, laying the groundwork for a national menu-labeling law. And in 2012, he signed legislation to improve nutrition standards for all city-funded food services.

Trey Glenn resigned this week as Region 4 administrator of the EPA after being indicted on ethics charges in Alabama. Glenn was appointed by President Trump in 2017 to oversee EPA operations in Alabama and seven other states in the Southeast U.S. Before joining EPA, Glenn had headed the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and worked as an environmental consultant in the state. His indictment dealt with work he performed before his time at EPA. He and a former member of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission allegedly worked through a company they ran together to oppose the addition of a Superfund site in Birmingham to the EPA’s National Priorities List. The men are charged with multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate, and receiving money in addition that received in one’s official capacity.

Waterways Council Inc. named Peter Stephaich, chairman and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Campbell Transportation Co., as its board chairman. Stephaich succeeds Tim Parker, president, Parker Towing Co. of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who’d been serving as chairman since 2016. The selection was made last week at WCI’s annual board meeting in Chicago.

The Soil Health Partnership is welcoming Madelyn Rabenhorst, a former precision ag manager, as a new field manager to cover the state of South Dakota, helping new farmers get started in the program and assisting them with making decisions on which soil health-promoting practices best suit their farms. The partnership also named Stacey Stiens as a new program coordinator. Stiens has 12 years in planning and implementing educational activities, programs and events. SHP is a long-range scientific program administered by the National Corn Growers Association to measure the beneficial effects of innovative soil management strategies.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has appointed eight members, eight alternate members and two advisors to serve on the Cotton Board. Re-appointed members are: Adam Hatley, Mesa, Ariz.; Rajiv Malik, Tiburon, Calif.; George Warbington, Vienna, Ga.; Sonja Chapman, Boonton, N.J.; Crystal Button, Great Neck, N.Y.; Julie Davis Holladay, Lubbock, Texas; Randy Braden, Midland, Texas; and Jeffery Posey, Roby, Texas. Re-appointed alternate members are: Jaclyn Dixon Ford, Alapaha, Ga., and Douglas Guiley, New York, N.Y. And newly appointed alternate members are: Ava Alcaida, Parker, Ariz.; Patricia Lesser, Kentfield, Calif.; Charles Sheppard, Indian Rocks, Fla.; Steven Olson, Plainview, Texas; Jason French, Snyder, Texas, and Brett Schniers, Wall, Texas. The appointed advisors are Gregory Bridgeforth, Athens, Ala., and incumbent Karen Kyllo, Henderson, Nev. All appointees will serve three-year terms.

Funeral services were held last weekend for Rogers Hoyt Sr., who died Nov. 13 at the age of 89. A third-generation rice farmer, Hoyt’s family has been growing rice in Texas for more than 100 years. Hoyt’s grandfather came to Katy, Texas, in 1904 and was one of the first rice farmers in the area. Hoyt joined the family operation immediately after high school. In 1974, while still farming rice at Katy, he established a ranching operation in Uvalde and Zavala counties. Hoyt’s son, Rogers Hoyt Jr., who currently serves as president of Ducks Unlimited, shared some fond memories of his father and his legacy of conservation. "I vividly remember riding in a pickup between my paternal granddad and my father as they scouted ponds to see which ones had ducks. On my first duck hunt as a kindergartner, Dad carried me piggyback through the water.  All the people who shaped my life enjoyed the outdoors and always believed if you take, you give back."

Jake Looney, a founding member and former president of the American Agricultural Law Association, passed away in late October at the age of 74. Looney was hired by the University of Arkansas Law School in 1980 and served as the school’s dean from 1982-1990. After stepping down as dean, he returned to the law faculty, writing several books on agricultural law before retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1997. He left the law school to return to his ranch in Mena, Arkansas, working in private practice and serving on the bench as Polk County District Court Judge. 

For more news, go to: