Sean Martin has been hired to succeed Dan Nicola as the new chief financial officer at California Giant Berry Farms. He brings over 30 years of experience in strategic planning, organizational restructuring and financial management. Nicola is transitioning into retirement after serving 30 years in the CFO role.

Eagle Eye hired Joe Ange as the new director of business development. Ange has been with Markon Cooperative Inc. since 2001, most recently working as purchasing director. He is a member of the Produce Marketing board of directors.

Watsonville Coast Produce Inc. has promoted Jerud Manfreto vice president of operations and Adrian Contrerasto sales manager. Manfre most recently served as a buyer for the company. The moves follow the recent retirement of long-time buyer and partner John Burkett

USDA deputy assistant secretary for civil rights Naomi Earp is resigning from her position effective Jan. 31. Earp stated in a letter to her employees, obtained by Politico, that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights improved despite not having "all the tools and cooperation needed to be successful." She also mentioned a goal she had for 2020 was to “minimize stress and abandon the daily commute.” She gave her notice to the Office of the Secretary in early December. In a statement, USDA said it would "undertake a careful and thorough search for new leadership" for the office.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has hired Eric Deeble as its new policy director. Before joining NSAC, Deeble worked with the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., as a senior policy adviser for agriculture, animal welfare, nutrition, and the arts. He will begin his new responsibilities at the end of January. NSAC deputy policy director Juli Obudzinski served as interim policy director during the search and hiring process and will return to her prior role in February.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has selected Luis Guardia to serve as president of the anti-hunger organization. Guardia most recently served as the chief business and financial services officer at Global Impact and chief operating officer at the ONE Campaign.

Britt Raybould was elected president of the National Potato Council (NPC). Larry Alsum will serve as the NPC immediate past president. Raybould serves as chief financial officer of Raybould Brothers Farm. She previously served the NPC Board as first vice president and vice president of the legislative and government Affairs Committee. She is the third generation of the Raybould family to serve as NPC president and the first female president in NPC's history. 

Carlos Abrams-Rivera has been appointed U.S. zone president for Kraft Heinz, effective Feb. 3. Abrams-Rivera most recently served as executive vice president and president of Campbell Snacks. Before that he was president of Campbell's Pepperidge Farm unit. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has added two to his Committee staff. Jake Chisholm has been hired to serve as staff director for the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management and Justina Graff will serve as the deputy clerk for the House Agriculture Committee. In addition to the new hires, Prescott Martin III, counsel for commodity and conservation programs during the 2018 farm bill, was promoted to Chief Counsel.

Ron Eckstein is now the communications director for Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif. He has spent the past three years as a freelance writer and before that was the communications director for Americans for Tax Fairness.

USW 2020 Board

Michael Peters, Oklahoma; Rhonda Larson, Minnesota; Darren Padget, Oregon; Doug Goyings, Ohio; Vince Peterson, USW

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) board of directors has elected new officers for the 2020-21 year. Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Ore., was elected chairman; Rhonda Larson of East Grand Forks, Minn., will serve as vice chairman; and Michael Peters of Okarche, Okla., was elected secretary-treasurer. These farmers will begin their new leadership roles at the USW board meeting in June 2020 when current chairman Doug Goyings of Paulding, Ohio, will become past chairman.

Founder of Mycogen Seed, Jerry Caulder passed away near the end of last year. Caulder's career began at Monsanto holding numerous management positions over 15 years. In 1984 Caulder moved to San Diego, Calif., and became the chairman and CEO of Mycogen, Inc. After Mycogen was acquried by Dow AgroSciences in 1998, Caulder held many leadership positions. Caulder's most recent endeavor was as the chairman of Athenix, Inc., a venture backed plant sciences company located in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Frieda Rapoport Caplan, a produce industry pioneer referred to as the ‘Kiwi Queen’, died at the age of 96. She was praised for her part in elevating the role of women in the fresh produce business and helped introduce kiwifruit and other specialties to the U.S. market in 1962. She started her own business Frieda, Inc., became the first woman in the U.S. to own and operate a produce company on the all-male Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

Bonnie Duvall, wife of American Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall, passed away after fighting a courageous battle with cancer. Bonnie and Zippy began their Farm Bureau journey in 1982 when they were chosen for the National Young Farmer and Rancher Award. Thirty-three years later Bonnie and Zippy continued their journey after Zippy was elected Farm Bureau president. Bonnie then took over keeping the books for her and Zippy’s Georgia farm, so Zippy could focus his attention on the Farm Bureau members and organization. AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal described Bonnie as “a special member of the Farm Bureau family.”

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