President Trump nominated Heath Tarbert to be a commissioner and chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Tarbert has been serving as the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for international markets since October 2017. If confirmed, he would succeed Chris Giancarlo as chairman of the U.S. derivatives regulators. Giancarlo’s term ends in April.

The National Corn Growers Association promoted Fred Stemme to be the chief operating officer. Previously, Stemme was the vice president of marketing and development. Before that, he was on the Missouri Corn Growers Association staff.

The American Sugarbeet Growers Association hired Zack Clark as its new director of government affairs. Clark has been serving in a similar role with the National Farmers Union. The ASGA also promoted Scott Herndon. In addition to being the organization’s general counsel, Herndon is now a vice president, serving with Luther Markwart, ASGA Executive Vice President. These changes were prompted by the recent retirement of Ruthann Geib – a 36-year veteran to ASGA who served as Vice President of Government Affairs. 

Kellie Bray has been promoted to chief of staff at CropLife America. Bray, a 10-year veteran at CLA, has been serving as senior director of government affairs. She’s also been a key leader in industry affairs, overseeing affiliation with youth organizations such as National FFA and Agriculture Future of America.

Rik Miller, former president of DuPont Crop Protection, is the new board chairman at Cool Planet, an ag technology company. He’s replacing Howard Janzen, Cool Planet’s ex-CEO, who remains on the board. In addition, Dwight Armstrong, former CEO of the National FFA Organization and vice president of the Global Group at Provimi, has been added to Cool Planet’s board.

Sources say Dustin Vande Hoef, veteran communications director at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, is joining the staff of U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in Des Moines. He’ll be serving as a special assistant for agriculture.

Wisconsin’s governor-elect, Tony Evers, named Brad Pfaff as secretary for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. A Wisconsin native, Pfaff worked for Rep. Ron Kind for several years before serving as the executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Wisconsin and the national deputy administrator for Farm Programs at USDA. He rejoined Kind’s staff in 2017 as the congressman’s deputy chief of staff and senior advisor. The Evers’ administration takes office Jan. 7.

Mike Bellar of Howard, Kan., was elected chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition during the group’s recent annual meeting in New Orleans. Bellar served as the STC vice chairman last year and secretary-treasurer from 2015-2016. Joel Schreurs, a soybean and corn farmer from Tyler, Minn., was elected vice chair, and Jonathan Miller of Island, Ky., is the new secretary-treasurer. 

Robert M. Thompson, a partner with the Kansas City office of the Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner law firm, was re-elected chairman of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City at the group’s annual meeting last month. Thompson serves as co-leader of Bryan Cave’s Food and Agribusiness Industry Group. Greg Krissek, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Corn Commission, was re-elected vice chairman.

Jay Jandrain is the new president and CEO of Butterball LLC, the country’s largest producer of turkey products. He succeeds Kerry Doughty, who is stepping down for health reasons. Jandrain, who joined Butterball in 2002, has been serving as the Garner, N.C-based company’s chief operating officer. Doughty was named chief executive officer in 2014.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research named nine early-career faculty members and a government researcher as recipients of a 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. The award provides the early investment which can help launch a scientific career in food and agriculture. The awardees are: Amanda Ashworth, with USDA’s Agriculture Research Service; Arianne Cease, Arizona State University; Tu-Anh Huynh, the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lav Khot, Washington State University; Manuel Kleiner, North Carolina State University; Amit Morey, Auburn University; Yiping Qi, the University of Maryland-College Park; Jason Wallace, the University of Georgia; and Matt Yost, Utah State University. The recipients will divide a total of about $2.3 million over three years, with matching funds from each recipient’s respective institution to double FFAR’s investment for a total of $4.67 million. For a description of the recipients’ research focus, click here.

Brandon Butler is stepping down as executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri after five years in the post. He’s leaving CFM at the end of January to join Roeslein Alternative Energy as director of communications.....Jennifer Zwagerman was named the next director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center. She’s been serving as associate director since 2015. The 2004 graduate of Drake Law School will succeed Neil Hamilton, the Dwight D. Opperman Professor of Law.  Hamilton has been director at the Center since its founding in 1983 and will be honored by Drake Law School at a March 29th event.

The Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers has named Craig Morris as its new CEO. Morris has 23 years of experience in animal protein and most recently served as vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board. The Iowa State alum also earned a doctor of philosophy degree from Texas A&M University where he held the Regents Graduate Fellowship in Animal and Meat Science.

Joel Newman has announced his plan to retire as president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association in December 2019. He’s been running the show at AFIA for 15 years. Newman spent almost a half century in the agriculture and food industries, holding executive positions with Agway, Maple Leaf Foods and United Cooperative Farmers prior to joining AFIA.

Our condolences go out to the family of John Culver, who represented Iowa in Washington, D.C., for 16 years. The former representative and senator passed away last week. Culver, a Democrat, was first elected to the House in 1964 and to the Senate 10 years later, but lost his re-election bid to Republican Chuck Grassley. His son, Chet Culver, served as Iowa governor from 2007 to 2011.

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