Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appointed Mindy Brashears as Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Scott Hutchins as Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics. President Donald Trump nominated the three for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA, but their nominations expired without receiving confirmation votes by the end of the 115th Congress in early January. Trump resubmitted their nominations, but until then Perdue appointed them to deputy roles so they can begin working in their secondary positions with the department on Jan. 29, 2019. Brashears comes in as 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 career civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling, and employment law. Her past experience includes positions with the departments of Commerce and Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Hutchins, formerly the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska, also has served as president of the Entomological Society of America. Hutchins will oversee the Office of the Chief Scientist, with Chavonda Jacobs-Young continuing to serve as Acting Chief Scientist.
Three newcomers are joining the House Agriculture Committee, but the GOP also has some departures of senior members. The rookie members are Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, Jim Baird of Indiana and Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota. Republicans leaving the panel are former chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, Jodey Arrington of Texas, Bob Gibbs of Ohio, and Mike Rogers of Alabama. Rep. Steve King of Iowa lost his seat on the panel as well as another committee assignment after making controversial comments on white supremacy. For more information on the House Agriculture Committee assignments, click here.
California Citrus Mutual named current executive vice president, Casey Creamer, as its new president and CEO. Creamer succeeds Joel Nelsen, who is retiring after 37 years. Nelsen will stay on through 2019 as senior strategist and past president to help the next leadership team settle in.
Noble Research Institute selected Oklahoma native Steven Rhines as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer, becoming the ninth president in Noble’s 74-year history. He has been with Noble for almost two decades, most recently serving as its vice president, general counsel and director of public affairs. Rhines replaces Bill Buckner, who retired after seven years at the end of 2018.
Gregory Heckman, Bunge board member, was appointed to take over as the company’s acting chief executive officer. Heckman succeeds Soren Schroder, who announced plans to step down last month.
Mollie Wilken is getting outside the Beltway and heading home to the Corn Belt. After five years working on Capitol Hill, most recently as press secretary for the House Ag Committee under then-chair Mike Conaway, R-Texas, she is moving to Omaha, Neb., to work for Swanson Russell, a communications firm, representing agriculture clients.
Mike Cusher stepped down after more than five years on the staff of Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., most recently as senior legislative assistant. Cusher is now the legislative director with the non-profit Mass Audubon in the Greater Boston area.
Cathy Hurwit, who served the past 20 years as chief of staff for Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill, plans to retire. Succeeding her is Robert Marcus, who formerly served as President Barack Obama’s primary liaison to the House of Representatives on national security and foreign affairs issues and was executive vice president for the Signal Group DC.
Logan Penfield, who works on ag issues for Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., will add energy and Environment and Public Works Committee issues to his portfolio.
Kirk Johnson will end 17 years with NRECA, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, effective Feb. 25. He’s been serving as the association’s senior vice president for government relations since 2011. Johnson is moving to the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative in Glen Allen, Va.
Former chief veterinary officer for the U.S. and chief trade adviser for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), John Clifford joins the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council as veterinary trade policy adviser to reduce trade barriers related to poultry health. Clifford retired on Dec. 31 after 33 years of service with APHIS, and has also served as the official U.S. delegate to the World Organization for Animal Health and as deputy administrator of APHIS.
Beth Sauerhaft is settling in as vice president for programs with American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement, No Farms, No Food. Sauerhaft previously worked for PepsiCo, integrating social and environmental sustainability into the company’s agricultural supply chains. She also spent six years with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in the early 2000s.
Mara Downing was promoted to Vice President of Global Brand Management and Corporate Communications with John Deere. Downing has been with the company for 18 years and was previously director of this department.
The American Royal Association appointed Glen Alan Phillips as its new CEO. Phillips previously served as chief strategy officer for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. He replaces Lynn Parman, who is now vice president of business development at McCownGordon Construction LLC. Phillips will begin his duties on April 15. The American Royal also brought on Jackie McClaskey, past secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, to lead fundraising and development efforts and the organization’s relocation project to Wyandotte County, Kansas. The association is based in Kansas City, Kan.
Emma Lasco is now handling producer outreach director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Lasco previously worked as a hog production territory manager for Smithfield and replaces Drew Mogler, who became the IPPA public policy director in December......Kylie Peterson joins the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) as director of marketing and communications. Peterson previously worked with the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST).
Defenders of Wildlife added Melanie Thornton and Sarah Lessard to the group’s government relations team. Thornton holds a doctorate in environmental and natural resources sciences from Washington State University and was previously a congressional science fellow in New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall’s office before heading to Defenders as a senior government relations rep. Lessard was a staffer on the Natural Resources Committee for then-ranking member Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. She joined Defenders as a government relations representative with a portfolio including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and wildlife funding matters.
Congratulations to Foster Brothers Farms/Vermont Natural Ag Products Inc., which was named the 2019 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year at the International Dairy Foods Association’s recent forum in Orlando, Fla. Foster Brothers Farms and VNAP was the first dairy in Vermont to install and operate a methane digester and feature robotic milkers in its operation. Robert Foster, president of Foster Brothers Farms and VNAP, accepted the award. Also honored was Mike Reidy, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Denver-based Leprino Foods Co. and the IDFA’s outgoing chairman. He received the association’s inaugural Legends in Leadership Award.
Best wishes go out to Barb Weber Lykins on her retirement from a 34-year run with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. During her time with IFBF, Lykins was the first woman hired on the field service staff, coordinated and helped implement the first agricultural education/ag in the classroom program in Iowa, served as the Director of Community Resources since 2004 and served as President of the Iowa 4-H Foundation in 2005.
A scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Lisa Ainsworth, is the winner of the National Academy of Sciences’ $100,000 Prize on Food and Agricultural Sciences for her work on how climate change will affect crops. Ainsworth is a molecular biologist located at the University of Illinois.
CORRECTION: In last week’s edition we incorrectly reported that James Carstensen and Lorraine Gershman will be joining the government relations team for Corteva. Instead, both will be joining the Specialty Products Division of DowDuPont, which is expected to become an independent company (future DuPont) by June 1. The corrected version is here.
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