FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced he will resign from his position, stepping down in the next month. Gottlieb had led the charge on a number of food policy issues at FDA, including dairy labeling and cultured meat regulation. Gottlieb had recently appointed senior staff positions including the hire of Doug Andres as a communications aide where he was set to work directly with Gottlieb. Andres was hired to fill the position after Nina Devlin, Gottlieb’s top communication aide, left FDA last month. Andres previously worked for former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for four years. He was also press secretary of the House Ways and Means Committee. ... Timothy Schell returned to the FDA to lead the Office of Surveillance and Compliance for the agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Schell started working for CVM back in 2000, starting as a reviewer of new animal drugs for swine and poultry. He held the position of deputy director of the Division of Animal Feeds from 2009-2014, and also served in leadership roles as acting director and acting deputy for more than a year at CVM’s Office of Research. In 2014, Schell joined Elanco Animal Health to lead regulatory affairs strategies.

Deere & Co. tapped John May to serve as its new chief operating officer beginning on April 1st. May has been with the company for 22 years, most recently serving as president of the Worldwide Agriculture and Turf Division, covering the Americas and Australia. He joined the senior management team in 2012 as the President of Ag Solutions and was chief information officer. Prior to joining Deere, May was a was consulting manager for KPMG International for 5 years. Deere also promoted Cory Reed to President of Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division, Rajesh Kalathur to president of John Deere Financial and chief information officer, and Ryan Campbell to senior vice president and chief financial officer of John Deere Financial.

Michael Torrey Associates (MTA) has promoted Tara Smith to executive vice president and Kerry Lynch to director of public affairs. Smith came to MTA in 2013 as vice president where she focused on developing strategy for legislation and regulatory issues. Prior to MTA, Smith served as senior staff for the Senate Agriculture Committee under Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., covering commodity programs, crop insurance, and disaster aid issues. She also was director of government affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation where she handled the farm bill and commodity issues. In her career, Smith also worked for Monsanto Company and Promar International. ... Lynch started with MTA in 2014 as a manager where she led the firm’s marketing strategy and outreach to clients. She will now work with the firm’s communication services and provide direction for new client services. In Lynch’s career she worked for the Society of Wine Educators, the Animal Agriculture Alliance and the National Turkey Federation.

Dave Warner has made his way to USDA as the new director of external affairs for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. He will work for Undersecretary Bill Northey to help communicate on behalf of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Services. Warner comes to USDA from the National Pork Producers Council, where he spent 13 and a half years as director of communications and spokesman. Prior to NPPC he worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as director of communications.

The American Farm Bureau hired Kathleen Cullins as the new chief financial officer. Cullins brings more than 27 years of financial experience to AFBF, previously serving as vice president of finance at the American Chemical Society. 

Last week, the Senate approved the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The confirmation came from a vote of 52-47. In his first week as administrator he has announced new staff additions. Doug Benevento will serve as senior counselor for regional management and state affairs. Benevento is currently EPA region 8 administrator and will remain in that position until he begins in his new role later this month. He previously served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and as a legislative aide to Colorado Representative and Senator Wayne Allard. ... Mara Kamen will serve as the new career director of the Office of Human Resources. She previously held various positions at the Small Business Administration and a has also served at the Department of Homeland Security and Office of Personnel Management. ... Michael Molina will be the new deputy chief of staff. Molina served as senior adviser to the Deputy Administrator and then Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. ... Lastly, Corry Schiermeyer will serve as the new associate administrator for the Office of Public Affairs. Schiermeyer currently serves as the Press Secretary and acting Director of Media Relations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Elizabeth Burns-Thompson is joining the Renewable Energy Group (REG) as manager of corporate affairs. Burns-Thompson made the transition to REG from the Iowa Corn Growers Association, previously working on the regulatory affairs counsel and was the government relations manager. Burns-Thompson worked at ICGA for four years and previously worked for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the National Agricultural Law Center.

Kirby Miller has joined the staff of Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., as legislative director covering many issues including appropriations, foreign trade and international finance, energy, labor and employment and immigration. Miller most recently served as a legislative director for former Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa.

Joel Elliott is the new chief of staff for Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa. Elliott previously served as chief of staff for Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Mimi Strobel moves to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. as a legislative assistant covering telecommunications issues. She previously worked for Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., as a legislative assistant. In that office, Rob Hicks will be taking over agriculture, tech, and telecommunications issues and Sienna DeSantis will be taking over defense and homeland security issues.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., hired Rachel Harris as communications director. Harris previously served as an account manager at The Herald Group.

Margaret McInnis returns to Capitol Hill to work as a legislative assistant for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. She left the Hill in 2016 to work in the private sector and government relations groups, most recently working as a senior legislative fellow for Venn Strategies. 

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) hired Kazunori “Rick” Nakano as the associate country director for Japan, based in Tokyo. Nakano will begin his role effective April 1st. Nakano brings more than 27 years of grain trading and management experience with Japan’s Marubeni Corporation to USW and he will work closely with USW Country Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, who intends to retire from his position in late September 2019. 

The National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Wheat Foundation announced new board officers at Commodity Classic last week. Outgoing president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, Jimmie Musick, passed the gavel to Ben Scholz, a farmer from Texas. Other board members named were Dave Milligan as vice president, Nicole Berg as treasurer, and Brent Cheyne will serve as NAWG’s new secretary. The National Wheat Foundation also welcomed Bernard Peterson as the new grower representative to replace past president Phil McLain.

UnitedAg, a company which provides health care for the agricultural industry, appointed Mack Ramsay as the new chairman to the board of trustees. Ramsay is responsible for UnitedAg’s health and wellness plans and affiliated initiatives. He served as president and managing member at Pacific Commerce Group (PCG) since 2005 and also serves as executive vice President/general manager for Calberi Inc., an agricultural cooperative and service provider.

After three years as chair of the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance (MCFA) Phil Korson has stepped down to head back to the farm and focus on family. Korson served on MCFA’s executive committee for more than 20 years, first as vice-chair and most recently as chair. Korson currently serves as president of Cherry Marketing Institute. Elected as chairman for 2019 is Jim Cranney, current president of the California Citrus Quality Council. Cranney is joined by Terry Humfeld who was elected as vice chair, Marcy Martin as secretary, and Robert Guenther as treasurer. 

Global Dairy Platform (GDP) elects Mike Durkin, president and CEO of Leprino Foods, and Lino Saputo Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Saputo Inc, to the board of directors. GDP is a collaboration of dairy sector organizations focused on promoting the use of the appropriate intake of nutrient-rich dairy foods and demonstrating the sector’s role in sustainable agriculture.

Annette Jones, the California State Veterinarian, received the Scientist of the Year award presented by the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association (PEPA) at the 95th annual convention in Anaheim, Calif. Jones also serves as director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s division of animal health and food safety services.

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