House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., announced the names of new committee staff members. With almost 20 years of experience on the hill, Dana Sandman will serve as the Committee’s chief clerk and Jennifer Yezak will serve as deputy clerk for the committee. Yezak previously served as Colorado’s deputy commissioner of agriculture and worked at USDA during the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Rebekah Solem is the new director of scheduling and Emily German and Alison Titus will serve as legislative assistants. Serving as the committee’s digital outreach specialist is Ross HettervigTom Mattocks was appointed as press secretary and Callie Murphy will be the Committee’s staff assistant.

The Almond Board of California hired Josette Lewis as its director of agricultural affairs. Holding a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California-Los Angeles, Lewis’s role focuses on the development, funding, and strategy of the Almond Board’s research program. Lewis previously served as associate vice president of sustainable agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), was associate director of the World Food Center, director of the office of agriculture at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and has provided counsel on an advisory committee for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. 

Congressman Adrian Smith, R-Neb., added Brian Hofer as staff assistant to his Grand Island staff and Dillon Kuehn as staff assistant to his Washington D.C. staff. Kuehn holds an agri-business degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and previously worked in agronomy, livestock management, and ag finance.

Former legislative director for Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J, Chris Slevin, took a new position as vice president for the Economic Innovation Group. Replacing Slevin is Veronica Duron who previously spent seven years with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., where she was a senior advisor covering health care, child welfare, and issues related to the Latina/o community, among other policy areas. Also in Booker’s office,  Kristin Lynch was named communications director. Jeff Giertz will be the communications director for Booker’s 2020 campaign.

Missouri Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Garrett Hawkins is leaving to start a new job as an account manager for Rosen's Inc. Hawkins worked under Director Chis Chinn. Chris Klenklen, who started with the department in the grain division under former Director Charlie Kruse, replaces Hawkins as deputy director.

Rodney Brown’s nomination to be a member of the Farm Credit Administration’s board was sent to the Senate on Tuesday. Brown’s history with the American Bankers Association has led the Farm Credit Council to announce they are “strongly opposed to his nomination” to the board, FCC CEO Todd Van Hoose told Agri-Pulse. Brown’s nomination would require Senate confirmation.

Mike Tate, a cotton producer from Huntsville, Ala., was elected National Cotton Council (NCC) chairman for 2019, succeeding Ron Craft, a cotton producer from Plains, Texas. Tate is a past president of Southern Cotton Growers, Inc., and is the owner/manager of Tate Farms, a family-owned partnership in Meridianville, Ala. The NCC’s vice chairman for 2019 is Kent Fountain, a Surrency, Ga., ginner.

Elected as NCC vice presidents are Kirk Gilkey, ginner, Corcoran, Calif., and Ron Harkey, warehouser, Lubbock, Texas. Re-elected as vice presidents are: Robert Lacy, Jr, cottonseed processor, and Kevin Brinkley, marketing cooperative executive, both from Lubbock, Texas; Joe Nicosia, merchant, Cordova, Tenn.; and David Hastings, textile manufacturer, Mauldin, South Carolina. Re-elected as secretary-treasurer is Barry Evans, a producer from Kress, Texas.

Shawn Holladay of Lubbock, Texas, was re-elected as chairman of the American Cotton Producers (ACP) of the National Cotton Council. Elected as an ACP vice chairman was Lee Cromley, Brooklet, Georgia. Re-elected as vice chairmen were Jason Condrey of Lake Providence, La., and Dan Thelander of Maricopa, Arizona.

Cotton Council International (CCI) elected new officers, including President Hank Reichle who currently serves as president and CEO of Staple Cotton Cooperative Association. Reichle succeeds outgoing president and newly appointed board chairman, Ted Schneider, a producer from Lake Providence, La.

The National Association of Water Companies promoted Marybeth Leongini, who has been with the company for 12 years, to vice president of communications. NAWC is also bringing on Meghan Estenson to be chief of staff and Christine Costello to serve as director of events and corporate sponsorships. Estenson previously worked for six years for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Serving as communications director for Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. is Kalina Francis, who previously worked as a senior account supervisor at Edelman.

American Farm Bureau Federation hired Heather Gieseke as managing director of business development. Most recently with the Meredith Corporation, Gieseke will oversee establishing industry partnerships with agriculture companies and will lead the IDEAg sales and marketing teams. ... IDEAg Group LLC also added three others to their tradeshow team: Dan Johnson comes on as sales account manager, managing exhibitor and sponsorship sales for the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, Dakotafest, Minnesota Farmfest, Northern Illinois Farm Show and the IDEAg Trade Show at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. Niki Jones was hired as IDEAg’s marketing manager and Kelly Morrison joins IDEAg as an assistant account manager.

Former chief staff executive for the National Cotton Council, Phillip Burnett received the 2018 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award at the National Cotton Council’s 2019 annual meeting held in San Antonio, Texas. The award goes to an individual showing extraordinary service, leadership, and dedication to the cotton industry. Burnett’s tenure as chief staff executive is credited to maximizing opportunities for the U.S. cotton industry among international customers, lawmakers, regulatory agencies and allied industries.

Holding the title as the longest-serving member of Congress, from 1955-2015, former Michigan Congressman John Dingell passed away at the age of 92 from complications of prostate cancer. A lifelong Democrat, Dingell was an advocate for civil rights, healthcare legislation, and fighting against government fraud. He also was a strong advocate for environmental protection but strongly supported his home state’s automobile industry and fought against environmental regulations for car makers. Becoming chairman in 1981 of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell made aggressive efforts to rid the government and corporate world of fraud through oversight and investigations. Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Former President Barack Obama, Dingell started his career by taking over the seat from his father, John Dingell Sr., in a special election after the elder Dingell passed away in office to tuberculosis. Dingell then announced his retirement from Congress in 2015 and his wife Debbie Dingell ran for his seat and won. In his retirement years, Dingell was regarded for his strong sense of humor on Twitter.

Thirteen-term lawmaker, Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C. passed away Sunday on his 76th birthday. On January 26, his office announced he had entered hospice care after his health declined due to a fall which led him to break his hip earlier this year. He first ran for Congress in the district his father represented for the previous 26 years as a conservative Democrat in 1992, but his campaign was unsuccessful which led him to run again in 1994 as a Republican in a neighboring district. During his tenure in congress, Jones was a strong advocate for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and is known for his jab at France’s opposition of the war by pushing to change the name of French fries and French toast in the House cafeteria to be called “Freedom fries” and “Freedom toast”. In 2005, he had a change of heart and publicly renounced his vote and called upon former President Bush to withdraw from the war. He began writing letters to relatives of U.S. service members killed in Iraq as a way to ask for forgiveness for voting to enter the war. In the end he signed over 12,000 letters. 

Kincannon & Reed Chairman and CEO Gregory J. Duerksen passed away unexpectedly at the age of 61. Duerksen guided Kincannon & Reed to become the leading search firm in the food and agribusiness sectors, tripling the firm’s staff and partner group and devoted his career to finding leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. 

Former National Farmers Union (NFU) president, Cyril H. Carpenter, passed away last week at the age of 96. Beginning his career in 1965 with the Minnesota Farmers Union as a lobbyist and secretary, he served as president for 12 years from 1972-1984. Carpenter was then elected as the president of the National Farmers Union and was elected to the International Agricultural Board, serving under President Carter.

Purple heart and silver star recipient and former Illinois Farm Bureau President Harold B. Steele passed away recently at the age of 96. Steele served as president of the Illinois Farm Bureau from 1971 to 1983 and was nominated and confirmed by President George H.W. Bush as Chairman of the Board for the Farm Credit Administration from 1989 to 1992. Steele was known for his dedication to the farming industry. He was named an Outstanding Young Farmer of Illinois in 1956, a Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer magazine in 1970, and a Master Builder by FarmHouse International Fraternity. He received the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award in 1984. In 2000, he was recognized by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois for his contributions to agriculture. 

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