National Farmers Union members have chosen Rob Larew, a former Capitol Hill staffer and the group's top lobbyist, to be its next president. Larew had been serving as NFU’s senior vice president for public policy and communications since 2016. He succeeds Roger Johnson, who has retired from the organization. To read more on Larew’s background, click here.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has selected Bette Brand to serve as the deputy undersecretary of rural development following the retirement of Donald “DJ” LaVoy. Brand has been serving as administrator of Rural Development’s Rural Business Service agency. She came to USDA in January 2018 after 35 years with Farm Credit of the Virginias.

Rob Larew

Rob Larew

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has appointed Jerry Costello II to serve as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He joins Pritzker’s cabinet after serving as the director of law enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a position he had held since May 2019. Costello previously represented the 116th district in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019, during which he served as chair of the agriculture and conservation committee. Costello replaces John Sullivan, who was forced to resign.

The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee announced Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., will serve on the House Agriculture Committee. Torres Small represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which is home to nearly 10,000 farms and $1.6 billion in agricultural revenue. Her district is a top-ten dairy producing district as well as one of the largest producers of nuts. It is also home to a wide range of crops, including cotton, hay, and chile.

Tina May has been promoted to vice president of rural services and chief of staff to CEO Beth Ford for Land O’Lakes. She previously was the senior director of sustainability.

The International Dairy Foods Association has named Joseph Scimeca senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs. Scimeca comes to IDFA after serving 16 years with Cargill, most recently as the company’s vice president of global regulatory and scientific affairs. He has a 33-year career in the global food, beverage and dairy industries, holding leadership positions with Kraft Foods, The Pillsbury Company, and General Mills.

Tina May linked in headshot

Tina May

Beth Hughes has left the International Dairy Foods Association, where she worked as the senior director of international affairs. IDFA has not begun the process to hire Hughes’ successor. She now serves as the vice president of trade and customs policy at the American Apparel and Footwear Association.

Suzy Friedman has left the Environmental Defense Fund, where she worked as the senior director of agricultural sustainability. She now works for the National Alliance of Forest Owners as the vice president of policy. 

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has expanded his staff’s portfolio work on the Senate Ag Committee. Janae BradyChelsie KeysMatt EricksonHaley Donahue, and Chance Hunley have expanded their respective portfolios. To see their new responsibilities, click here.

Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., has made changes and promotions to his staff. Brian Lee joined the staff as a senior policy adviser. Lee’s portfolio includes foreign agriculture, market access, and ag producer assistance policy. Lee was a Fulbright scholar in Austria, and has worked in capacity building with political leaders and groups in local and regional economies. Ashley Shelton, legislative director, has added commodity programs, risk management policy, and crop insurance reform to her portfolio, in addition to her existing portfolio of trade, health care, and nutrition. Kathryn King’s portfolio has been expanded to include biosecurity, national security, and agriculture research. She currently covers rural and economic development issues.

Jim Warren has started in the office of Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., as a legislative assistant covering the agriculture and food, environmental protection, immigration, public lands and natural resources, telecommunications, transportation, and small business portfolio. 

Ben Ayres has left the office of Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., where he served as a legislative assistant covering the agriculture and food portfolio, animal welfare, energy, environmental protection, and natural resources portfolio.

Alex Cisneros no longer serves as the senior legislative assistant covering the energy, foreign affairs, trade, and immigration portfolio for Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio. Max Siwik has taken over Cisneros’ portfolio and has been promoted to legislative assistant. He also covers the environmental protection, public lands and natural resources portfolio.

Kyle Campbell now serves as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., covering the portfolio for agriculture and food, animal welfare, energy, environmental protection, labor and employment, natural resources, science and technology, small business, and transportation. Campbell previously served as a legislative aide.

Andy Harding has been promoted to senior counsel for Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Harding works on issues for the committee relating to the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program, USDA small watershed program, the Endangered Species Act, Ocean Dumping Act, and regional economic development.

Andrew Kugle is Rep. Jim Baird’s, R-Ind., new press secretary. He previously worked for Washington Free Beacon as a war room director.

Kaylee Niemasik has been promoted to legislative director for Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif. She covers the portfolio for commerce and telecommunications. Niemasik previously served as a legislative counsel for Porter.

Jeff Lopez has been elevated to senior policy adviser for Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. He covers the portfolio for commerce, trade, labor and employment, small business, transportation, public works, and taxation. He previously was a legislative assistant for Udall.

Caleb Graff has been promoted to deputy chief counsel for Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ohio, on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He previously was a professional staff member. 

Rachel Marshall has started as a legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. She covers the portfolio for commerce, finance, and small business.

Nick Martin is now the communications director for Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash. He most recently was a director at Forbes Tate Partners LLC. 

Daniel Bucheli now serves as the communications director for Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla. He previously worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign. 

Craig Wheeler is now the communications director for Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. He previously was the assistant communications director.

Donald Pollard has left the office of Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., where he served as a legislative assistant covering the energy, immigration, natural resources, and small business portfolio. Caroline Paris-Behr has taken over his portfolio until the office hires a new LA. Pollard has moved over to the office of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., where he now serves as legislative assistant covering the science and technology and consumer protection portfolio. 

Ian Wolf left the office of Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., where he worked as the legislative director covering the commerce and science portfolio. Kelsey Moran, chief of staff to Frankel, has taken over the issues temporarily. 

Libby Hogen-Heath has left the U.S. Beet Sugar Association where she served as the director of administration. She has started a new role with the American Seed Trade Association as the executive assistant to the executive team.

NAWG 2020 officers2

NAWG 2020 Board Officers

The National Association of Wheat Growers have selected a new slate of officers at Commodity Classic. 2019 NAWG president and Texas farmer Ben Scholz passed the gavel down to vice president Dave Milligan, a farmer from Michigan. Washington farmer, Nicole Berg, has become the new vice president. Brent Cheyne, Oregon farmer, is the new treasurer and Oklahoma farmer, Keeff Felty, will serve as secretary. Scholz will continue to serve on the executive committee in the role of past president.

The National Wheat Foundation has tapped David Cleavinger to serve as the new chairman of the foundation. Cleavinger is a fifth-generation farmer from Texas, who has served the wheat industry for nearly 30 years. He was elected to the Texas Wheat Producers board of directors in 1993 and also joined the National Association of Wheat Growers board of directors. The National Wheat Foundation also welcomed Gary Broyles from Montana, as a new member of the board.

Bayer AG has selected Norbert Winkeljohann to serve as the chairman of the supervisory board. Winkeljohann will succeed Werner Wenning, who is stepping down at the end of the annual stockholders' meeting on April 28. Winkeljohann served as chairman of the Board of Management of PricewaterhouseCoopers Europe SE until June 2018 and has been a member of Bayer's Supervisory Board since May 2018.

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