Western Growers tapped Ryan Talley, co-owner and farm manager of Talley Farms, to serve as chairman of the Board of Directors for a one-year term. He succeeds outgoing chairman Ron Ratto, president of Ratto Bros., Inc. Talley leads Talley Farms, a diversified family-owned farming company and grower- shipper of bell peppers, cilantro, spinach, lettuce, Napa cabbage, avocados, lemons and grapes.

Church Brothers Farms of Salinas, Calif., has hired Grace Ho as vice president of food safety and quality. Ho brings more than 18 years of experience to Church Brothers, most recently serving as senior vice president of food safety and quality at the Castellini Group of Cos., Cincinnati. She also has been director of food safety and technical services for Misionero Vegetables LLC, Gonzales, Calif., and senior principal scientist for Chiquita Brands International/Fresh Express.

Ryan Talley

Ron Ratto and Ryan Talley

The Citrus Research Board (CRB) voted to recommend three members to the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross for approval to serve as the organization's executive officers. The recommended officers are: Justin Brown, CRB Chairman; John Konda, CRB Vice Chairman, and Mark McBroom, CRB Secretary/Treasurer. 

Litehouse Inc., a salad dressing brand, has promoted Kelly Prior to the position of president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Prior previously served as president of Litehouse. Prior joined Litehouse in 2002 and became CFO in 2005. In 2010 Prior was appointed executive vice president of the company, took on the role of interim president in 2018 and officially moved into the president role in February of 2019.

The San Benito County Farm Bureau has tapped Mary Lou Coffelt to serve as the new president. She succeeds Pat Wirz.

Sakata Seed America of Morgan Hill, Calif., has hired Brian Just as sweet pepper lead and senior plant breeder. Just brings more than 15 years of experience in breeding sweet peppers, previously working with Seminis, Monsanto and Bayer.

The World Food Prize Foundation has tapped Barbara Stinson to serve as the new president of the organization, effective Jan. 4. Stinson previously served as a co-founder and senior partner of the Meridian Institute. She will succeed Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, who has served 20 years as president. Stinson will become the second president of the Foundation since Norman Borlaug established it in 1986.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has tapped Roberta Wagner to serve as vice president of regulatory and technical affairs, effective Dec. 2, and Spencer Pederson to serve as vice president of federal affairs. Wagner has over 33 years in public service, most recently serving as the assistant administrator of the office of policy and program development at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. She also served 20 years at the FDA, holding roles such as analytical chemist and associate director for the Food Safety Modernization Act. Pederson previously worked at the American Chemistry Council as the director of federal affairs.

John Irving

John Irving

John Irving is now the deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the EPA. He previously worked as a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight LLP.

The Plant Based Products Council has selected Jessica Bowman to serve as its new executive director. Bowman previously worked at the American Chemistry Council as the executive director of the FluoroCouncil. She holds a J.D. with a concentration in environmental law from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Tyson Foods’ board of directors has named independent director Dean Banks as the new president of the company, effective as of December 20, 2019. Tyson’s current president and chief executive officer, Noel White, will continue as CEO. Banks previously worked as a project lead at X, an Alphabet Inc. company formerly known as Google [x].

CME Group today announced that Alex Pollock will step down from the company's Board of Directors effective Nov. 15 as he accepts a new role within the U.S. Treasury Department as Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Financial Research. Pollock has served as a CME Group director since 2004.

Lauren Broccoli is now the assistant director of government relations at the American Veterinary Medical Association. She previously worked as a lobbyist at Lewis-Burke Associates.

Dana Peterson is now the chief of staff at USDA’s Farm Service Agency under Administrator Richard Fordyce. She previously served as a policy adviser to USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. In her career she has also served as the CEO at the National Association of Wheat Growers.

WISErg Corporation, a Washington State-based ag-tech company, has appointed Andy Thomas as CEO of the company. Thomas previously served as the global general manager of innovation and strategy and president of Nuseed Americas. Thomas succeeds Brian Valentine. Valentine will continue to serve on the company's Board of Directors. 

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has hired Justin Metzger as the new PR manager. Metzger will take over for Pat Monroe, who is retiring at the end of the year. Metzger spent the previous seven years in various marketing and communications roles for the County of Milwaukee, Wis.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has elected new officers at its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz. Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected USMEF chair succeeding Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson. Jones became president of the Idaho Cattle Association in November 2003, and later he chaired the Idaho Beef Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils and served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. The new chair-elect is Pat Binger of Wichita, Kan., a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Mark Swanson is USMEF's new vice chair. He is CEO of Birko Corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Colo. Dean Meyer was elected secretary-treasurer. He is a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa.

Indigo Ag announced John Mulliken, former Wayfair CTO, will be joining the company as chief integrated product officer. Mulliken will oversee Indigo's regenerative and microbial product teams. Indigo has also hired Persis Elavia, a former general manager at Uber, and Amit Menipaz, a former eBay executive, as marketplace general manager and head of global transport.

The American Hereford Association has elected Oklahoma rancher Joel Birdwell as the new president at the annual meeting in Kansas City. Birdwell succeeds retiring president Pete Atkins of Tea, South Dakota. Mark St. Pierre of California was tapped to serve as vice president. Bill Goehring of Iowa, Whitey Hunt of Georgia and Becky King-Spindle of New Mexico will serve on the Hereford board of directors.

The American Angus Association has selected Don Schiefelbein to serve as the new president. The Minnesota native is a rancher and co-owner of Schiefelbein Farms. Also elected to serve for the association was California rancher David Dal Porto as vice president and Nebraska rancher Jerry Connealy as treasurer.

Jake Jackson now serves as a legislative assistant for Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., covering the agriculture and food, animal welfare, energy, environmental protection, transportation, public lands and natural resources portfolio. He was promoted to this position from legislative correspondent.

Caitlin Kovalkoski now serves as a legislative assistant for Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., covering the transportation portfolio. She previously served as director of federal policy for the Corporation for Supportive Housing. 

Steve Brown announced his retirement from the Department of Education where he served as an education program specialist and was appointed to serve as the National FFA advisor and board chair. Brown served in the advisor role for FFA since 2011. The department has not yet announced his successor.

Bob Nunes, founder of Nunes Company, died at his home in Pebble Beach, CA as the age of 88. He was raised on a farm in Chualar, Calif., and following graduation from Stanford University, he became a vegetable inspector with Monterey County before joining a Salinas grower-shipper as the bookkeeper. In 1966, Nunes and his brother founded Nunes Bros. of California Inc., an integrated grower-shipper of vegetables. In 1968, United Fruit Company bought Nunes Bros., one of five Salinas Valley vegetable grower-shippers that would become Interharvest. Nunes and his brother briefly ran that company until resigning in 1972. In 1977, they restarted and launched The Nunes Company. He was the recipient of numerous awards and well-recognized for his innovative efforts to market fresh produce directly to consumers.

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