Funeral services are planned for Saturday for Bob Bergland, a northern Minnesota farmer who served as President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of agriculture from 1977 to 1981. Bergland died Sunday in his hometown of Roseau, Minn. He was 90. Bergland worked at USDA for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service – now called the Farm Service Agency – from 1963-1968. In 1970, he was elected to the first of four terms in Congress where he served on the House Agriculture Committee's subcommittees for Conservation and Credit, and Livestock, Grains, Dairy, and Poultry. President Carter tapped Bergland to serve in his Cabinet in 1977, leaving him the difficult job of defending Carter's unpopular 1980 decision to embargo grain sales to the Soviet Union after the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the nominations of three officials for top jobs at USDA, but at least one of the nominees may run into trouble in the full Senate. The panel approved by voice vote Mindy Brashears as undersecretary for food safety, Scott Hutchins as undersecretary for research, and Naomi Earp as assistant secretary for human rights. But six committee Democrats, including ranking member Debbie Stabenow, registered opposition to Earp. Stabenow says she still has questions about Earp and doubts they can get answered before Congress adjourns. 

As Congress works on passing a new farm bill, former Senate Agriculture Committee Staff Member and current Director at the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program, Bock Ag Law/Policy Program at the University of Illinois, Jonathan Coppess, looks back at over 100 years of farm and food policy. His new book, The Fault Lines of Farm Policy: A Legislative and Political History of the Farm Bill, was recently published by the University of Nebraska Press and is a “must read” for farm policy wonks. You can order here.

The board of the American Soybean Association elected Davie Stephens, of Clinton, Ky., to serve as ASA president for 2019. Stephens previously served as secretary of ASA and has been an ASA national director since 2012. He replaces John Heisdorffer, who moves to the role of ASA chairman. The ASA Board also elected Bill Gordon, of Minnesota, to serve as vice president, placing him in line to serve as the association’s president in 2020. In addition, Bret Davis, of Ohio, was elected secretary; Brad Kremer, of Wisconsin, treasurer; and Kevin Scott, of South Dakota, Joe Steinkamp, of Indiana, Brad Doyle, of Arkansas, and Ronnie Russell, of Missouri, as at-large members of the governing committee. The election took place at the group’s annual winter board meeting in St. Louis.

Richard Wilkins, a former president of the American Soybean Association, was elected president of the Delaware Farm Bureau at the group’s annual meeting in early December. Wilkins, who farms in Greenwood, Del., received DFB’s “Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award” in 2015, was elected president of Kent County Farm Bureau in October 2017. He continues to serve on the ASA board, where his main committee assignments are the Farm Bill & Crop Insurance Advocacy Team and the Farm Bill Task Force.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization hired Josh Falzone as its director of communications for agriculture and the environment. Prior to joining BIO, Falzone served as press secretary for Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who chose not to run for reelection in 2018. Falzone also worked on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign in 2015.

Kevin Norton is the new acting associate chief at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He currently serves as the Louisiana state conservationist and was a detailee to the House Agriculture Committee’s majority staff from March to September this year. Norton also served on the Senate Ag Committee’s majority staff for two and a half years under former Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. The Oklahoma State grad takes over for James Tillman, who was in the same position in an acting role for the past two years.

The board of directors of Renewable Energy Group Inc. named Cynthia Warner as the advanced biofuel producer’s president and CEO effective Jan. 14. She is also joining the board. Randy Howard, who has served as president and chief executive officer since July 2017, will remain on the board and assist in the transition. Warner has more than 35 years of experience in the energy industry, including an extensive background in refining. Most recently she served as executive vice president, operations, for Andeavor (formerly Tesoro Corporation), an integrated marketing, logistics and refining company.

The Waterways Council Inc. promoted Tracy Zea to vice president for government relations. He had been serving as director of government relations since August 2015. Before joining WCI, the South Dakota State alum worked on the staff of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for five years.

Alex Echols was named program director for agriculture at the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment. Previously, Echols ran the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, worked as the government affairs director of a recycling trade association and worked for the U.S. Senate for 12 years. While working for the Senate, Echols was the principal staff lead in developing the conservation title of the Farm Bill. The foundation promotes policy, advocacy, and enforcement to improve water quality, and restore ecological balance.

Tamara Nelsen is leaving the Illinois Farm Bureau where she’s been senior director of commodities since 1998. Nelsen says she’s moving to Minnesota to start a new job with the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council.

Charlie Stamp, who has managed Deere and Company’s strategy and business-development activities since 2016, is retiring as of Dec. 20. Stamp, who has been with Deere for nearly 20 years, including serving as Deere’s VP for public affairs, also had responsibility for the office of the chief economist. Stamp is also a former board chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and a life honorary director of that group. He plans to continue to mentor students at his undergraduate alma mater, Southeast Missouri State University, where he helped establish an entrepreneurial accelerator program.

Bunge Ltd. is looking for a new CEO. The agribusiness giant says Soren Schroder, who’s been serving as chief executive since 2013, is planning to step down but will stay in his current role until a successor is named. In addition, Bunge says Kathleen Hyle, who has served on the company’s board since 2012, will become board chair, effective immediately. The current chair, L. Patrick Lupo, will remain a board member. Hyle previously served as CFO of ANC Rental Corp., the parent company of Alamo Rent-A-Car and National Rent-A-Car… Another new board member is J. Erik Fyrwald, the chief executive of agrichemicals company Syngenta. The appointment is part of an agreement with activist investors D.E. Shaw and Continental Grain Co. The changes come as the global grains trader navigates low crop prices and a trade war that has slashed U.S. crop exports to China. Fyrwald is a fourth mutually agreed-upon director, according to Bunge. The board expansion follows unsuccessful takeover bids by rival Archer Daniels Midland Co. and commodities trader Glencore. Fyrwald has been Syngenta’s CEO since 2016 and previously worked for DuPont.

Haruyuki (Harry) Yoshida was named the new president and CEO of Kubota Tractor Corp. and Kubota North America, based in Grapevine, Texas, effective Jan. 1. The 37-year Kubota veteran most recently held the position of managing executive officer of farm and industrial machinery domain, strategy and operations at headquarters in Osaka, Japan, and has previously spent time in the U.S. in various roles. He’s replacing Masato Yoshikawa who was promoted to director and senior managing executive officer, GM of planning and control headquarters, and GM of global IT management, and will assume his new role in Osaka at the start of the new year. Yoshikawa has served as KTC president and CEO since late 2013.

The National Grange has honored Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., with its 2018 Champion of Rural America Award. Also receiving the award were Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and the National Rural Health Association, headed by CEO Alan Morgan.

The Washington Apple Commission is welcoming two new members to its board of directors Elected for three-year terms: Jorge Sanchez and Miles Kohl. Three other board members were reappointed: They are: Dave Robison, Michael Roche and West Mathison. The commission’s job is to increase consumer demand for apples through innovative marketing and promotions in international markets.

Sharon Arnold was elected to a two-year term on the Missouri Farm Bureau board of directors. Arnold, who raises row crops and beef cattle on the family farm near Drexel, Mo., will represent District 4 in the west-central part of the state. She replaces Brent Hampy, of Smithton, who was appointed Missouri executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Truman David Julian, a former president of the National Public Lands Council, passed away Dec. 5 at the age of 73. A lifelong sheep rancher, Julian was a former president of the Wyoming Wool Growers. He was named 1994 Ag Citizen of the year by the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, and, in 1998, an outstanding alumni of the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture.

Timothy Josling, professor emeritus of ag economics at Stanford, died late last month after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 78. Originally from London, England, Josling joined Stanford in 1978 to teach at the former Food Research Institute. He may be best known for developing the “producer subsidy equivalent approach,” or PSE, a measure that helps countries understand how much of a farmer’s earnings was created by agricultural policy. The measure is still used to this day.

Funeral services were held last weekend for Lou Raffel, the first president and CEO of the American Egg Board, who died Dec. 7 at the age of 85.  Raffel led the AEB for 30 years until his retirement in 2006 and is responsible for the famous slogan, “The Incredible Edible Egg” that launched in 1976, an icon of American advertising. In 1977, he started the springtime tradition of presenting the first lady of the United States with a commemorative egg on behalf of U.S. egg farmers. By 1990, this presentation become part of the White House Easter Roll and remains so today.

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