Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue swore into office Scott Soles to serve as USDA’s principal deputy chief financial officer. Soles grew up in Oxnard, California and graduated with a degree in accounting from Southwest Texas State University. Soles is a CPA and has a Certification in Financial Forensics. He brings over 30 years of experience in internal and external financial auditing, consulting, and finance operations. Most recently, Soles was a senior financial projects analyst residing with his family in Houston, Texas.

USDA has appointed Connie Conway to serve as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA Farm Service Agency in California. Prior to her appointment, Conway ran her own consulting business that focused on strategic planning, business development, and government relations services. She also served as an assemblywoman for the California State Legislature where she served as Minority Leader and on the Agriculture, Transportation, Labor and Health Committees.

Governor Gavin Newsom made three appointments on Tuesday, August 13. Teresa Alvarado of San Jose, has been appointed to the California Water Commission. Alvarado has been San Jose director of SPUR since 2016 and was deputy administrative officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District from 2011 to 2016. Matthew Swanson of Turlock, has also been appointed to the California Water Commission. Swanson has been president and chief executive officer at Associated Feed since 1998. Phil Ginsburg of San Francisco, has been appointed to the California State Park and Recreation Commission. He has been general manager of the San Francisco recreation and park department since 2009 and was chief of staff in the Office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom from 2006 to 2008.

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) has hired Courtney Razor as its new director of member services and communications. She previously served as the chief operations officer for the Fresno County Farm Bureau for the last six and a half years. At Farm Bureau, Razor managed their Future Advocates for Agriculture Concerned about Tomorrow (FAACT) program, supported the needs of the board of directors and executive committee and oversaw special event planning. Her first day at the Association will be Tuesday, September 3.

Chrisandra Flores has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Sacramento County to serve as the agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures, effective August 18. Flores obtained her Commissioner License and Sealer License in November of 2013 and was appointed to the position in Nevada County in December 2014.  After serving the Nevada County Agriculture Industry and residents for two years and helping to secure agri-tourism in the County, she made her way to Sacramento County.

Cassie Howard has been promoted to the director of category management for Sunkist Growers. In this role, Howard will analyze industry data to help Sunkist partners make better business decisions that grow its citrus categories. 

Canadian ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, announced he will step down as ambassador at the end of August and return home to Toronto to start a new position in the private sector. MacNaughton has been the ambassador since March of 2016, and has worked on USMCA trade negotiations. Canada’s deputy U.S. ambassador, Kirsten Hillman, will become the acting ambassador.

Yum Brands has promoted David Gibbs to take the helm of the company as the new CEO. He will succeed Greg Creed, who has served as CEO since 2015 and will retire at the end of 2019. Yum Brands is the company behind the restaurant chains KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Gibbs currently serves as the president and operating chief overseeing the three main divisions. He has been with the company for more than 30 years and held various leadership roles in all of Yum’s brands.

Bob Freeman joins the staff of JJB Farms as the new director of sales for Onions Etc. and Modi Apple USA divisions. Freeman brings over 18 years of experience managing produce accounts and retail and wholesale clients. Prior to coming to JJB Farms, he worked at Fresh Express, Yorkshire Foods (Del Monte Dried Fruit), Mariani Packing, and Fresh Gourmet. 

Philip Rossetti is the new fellow on the minority staff of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. He will be focusing on energy and climate policy. Prior to joining the committee, he served as the director of energy policy at the American Action Forum. 

Andrew Noh is Rep. Harley Rouda’s, D-Calif., new chief of staff and covers the portfolio for labor and employment and appropriations. He previously served as the deputy chief of staff and legislative director… Zac Commins is now Rounda’s legislative director covering the portfolio for immigration. He previously served as the senior legislative assistant… Matt Jackson has been promoted to legislative assistant from legislative correspondent for Rouda. He covers the portfolio for foreign trade and international affairs… Beth Hammon is now a policy adviser for Rounda covering energy, environmental protection, science and technology, and public lands and natural resources issues. She previously served on Rouda’s staff for the Environment Subcommittee for the House Oversight and Reform Committee as a professional staff member.

Sonali Desai is the new chief of staff for Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. She replaces Linda Shim, who has left the office. Desai previously served as the legislative director for Chu. She covers the portfolio for small business and commerce. Ellen Hamilton takes over as Chu’s legislative director covering transportation and health issues. She previously served as the senior legislative assistant.

Allison Johnson has been hired as the new legislative assistant for Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., covering the transportation and infrastructure portfolio. She comes to DeSaulnier’s office from Hogan Lovells US LLP where she served as an associate.

Leah Courtney is now the communications director for Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla. She comes from Tallahassee, Fla., where she served as the communications coordinator at Florida TaxWatch.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture announced the second cohort of FFAR Fellows, which is a three-year fellowship working to engage 17 doctoral candidates to prepare them to become the next generation of scientists in food and agriculture. The following students to comprise the 2019 FFAR Fellow cohort are as follows: Alex Batson, Washington State University; Scott Cosseboom, University of Maryland; Maria Gannett, Cornell University; Natalie Goh, University of California-Berkeley; Sihui Ni, North Carolina State University; Nate Korth, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Miriam Martin, Kansas State University; Kelsey Peterson, University of Minnesota; Linda Beckett, Purdue University; Gwen Donley, Case Western Reserve University; Karlinton Flores, North Carolina State University; Danielle Gelardi, University of California-Davis; Annemarie Krug, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Krista Marshall, University of California-Davis; Dhruv Patel, University of California-Berkeley; Inocent Ritte, Tuskegee University; Danielle Stevenson, University of California-Riverside.

Paul Findley

Rep. Paul Findley

Former Rep. Paul Findley, R-Ill., passed away from congestive heart failure. Findley was first elected to the House in 1960 and served for 22 years. He is most well know for his 1981 farm bill amendment known as the “Findley Amendment” which opened the floodgates to commodity price support subsidies. He died Aug. 9 at a hospital in Jacksonville, Ill. He was 98.

For more news, go to