President Donald Trump has notified Congress that he has designated Jason Kearns as chairman and Randolph Stayin as vice chairman of the United States International Trade Commission, effective June 17, 2020.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler has announced the appointment of 33 members to the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). William Thomas (Tom) McDonald of Five Rivers Cattle Feeding was selected as the incoming committee chair and Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau, was chosen as the incoming committee vice chair. Davie Stephens, American Soybean Association chairman, was also selected to serve on the committee. To view the other members appointed to the committee, click here.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has made staff changes in the management of the FCC’s Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force. Nathan Eagan, who has been the chief of the staff of the Task Force since 2018, has moved to the Office of General Counsel, and Audra Hale-Maddox will become the new chief of staff for the Task Force. Since 2012, Hale-Maddox served in the Auctions Division of the FCC's Office of Economics and Analytics.

John Deere has appointed new individuals to lead redesigned or newly created business units. Cory Reed has been appointed to the new role of president, Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division for Production & Precision Agriculture Equipment and for the Sales & Marketing Regions of the Americas and Australia. Markwart von Pentz has been appointed to the new role of president, Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division for Small Ag & Turf and for the Sales & Marketing Regions of Europe, CIS, Asia and Africa. Jahmy Hindman has been named the new chief technology officer overseeing the Intelligent Solutions Group. Marc Howze, currently serving as chief administrative officer, will continue in that role while also assuming the new role of group president of Lifecycle Solutions. These promotions went into effect June 16. Additionally, John Stone will assume his new role as president, Worldwide Construction & Forestry and Power Systems, on July 1.

Syngenta Group Co. has officially launched the Syngenta Group, a new entity that brings together Syngenta AG, ADAMA and agricultural activities of Sinochem. The organization encompasses four business units: Syngenta Crop Protection led by Jon Parr, based in Basel, Switzerland; Syngenta Seeds led by Jeff Rowe and based in Chicago; ADAMA led by Ignacio Dominguez, based in Airport City, Israel; and Syngenta Group China, led by Hengde Qin and based in Shanghai. Erik Fyrwald, formerly CEO of Syngenta AG, becomes CEO of Syngenta Group; Chen Lichtenstein, formerly CEO of ADAMA, becomes CFO of Syngenta Group; Steve Landsman becomes general counsel, and Laure Roberts becomes chief human resources officer. 

Erik Fyrwald

Erik Fyrwald 

Tyson Foods has tapped Dan Turton to lead the global government affairs team as its senior vice president, effective June 29. He will be based in Washington, D.C., and report to Amy Tu, executive vice president and general counsel. Turton most recently served as a senior adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules. He also previously served as vice president for North American public policy at General Motors.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has brought on Fan-Li Chou to be the new vice president of scientific affairs and policy. Chou currently serves as the agricultural biotechnology adviser to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and has held a number of different positions within the department. She will begin her new role with ASTA on Aug. 10.

ASTA has also announced its new leadership team for the 2020 year: John Latham with Latham Hi-Tech Seeds has been selected as chair, Brad May with BASF is the first vice chair, and Jim Schweigert with Gro Alliance is second vice chair.

Tom Moore with HM. CLAUSE has announced his retirement after having served the seed industry for 24 years. He has been very active in ASTA, participating on the Phytosanitary Committee, the International Executive Committee and the Emerging Diseases Committee. He also served as ASTA representative to the International Seed Federation Phytosanitary Committee. 

Bernice Slutsky is also retiring from the ASTA staff after being with the association for the past 15 years. She most recently served in the role of senior vice president for innovation. Before joining ASTA, Bernice held positions at USDA, in the Office of the Secretary and the Foreign Agricultural Service, as well as with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers (PhRMA). 

Scott Gerlt has been hired by the American Soybean Association (ASA) as the first economist on staff. Starting July 20, Gerlt will be based out of ASA's St. Louis office. He brings over 10 years of experience in economics, previously working at the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), where he worked with policymakers in drafting the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.

Tony Thelan has added the title of chief product officer at John Deere Financial. He will also continue to serve as the vice president of global strategy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has added John Chapuis to his office as policy adviser for tax, trade, banking, and other economic policy issues. Chapuis previously worked in the office of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, as a senior adviser and also previously was Cornyn's deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Majority Whip.

Marissa Dake has been tapped to lead distribution efforts for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program in northeast Kansas. She will oversee collaboration with regional nonprofits, municipalities, school districts, churches, and tribes to increase food access during the coronavirus crisis. Dake most recently served as a policy and communications coordinator at Michael Torrey Associates. She started her new role on Monday, June 22.

The National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board elected Chris Edgington to become the organization’s first vice president for the next fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. Edgington raises corn and soybeans along with his dad, brother and son on their farm in Iowa. On the national level, Edgington chairs the Finance Committee. Also on Oct. 1, Kevin Ross of Iowa becomes chairman, and the current first vice president, John Linder of Ohio, becomes NCGA president.

Caitlin Cain has been tapped to oversee the day-to-day work of the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Most recently, she led her own New Orleans-based social investment firm and was previously a Fulbright Scholar who also served as CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans.

Wei-lin Chou

Wei-lin Chou

U.S. Wheat Associates has hired Wei-lin Chou as a Technical Specialist out of the Taipei, Taiwan, office. Chou earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agriculture chemistry from National Taiwan University. He brings experience as an assistant researcher for the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute and in technical sales for Thailand-based company Starpro Starch Co. 

Bob Scott has been named director of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service, effective July 1. He will succeed Rick Cartwright, who retires June 30. In April 2018, Scott was appointed director of the Rice Research and Extension Center. He holds a doctoral degree in weed science from Mississippi State University and he earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy and master’s degree in weed science from Oklahoma State University.

Crop Enhancement has appointed Jean Pougnier to serve in the role of CEO. Pougnier succeeds Kevin Chen, who led the company since 2015. Chen will remain an independent board director of the company. Pougnier brings 30 years of experience to the position, previously working for DuPont, FMC, and AMVAC.

Mark Stewart is the new president of Drexel Chemical Company. Stewart started in sales with Drexel in January 1999, and was later promoted to sales manager, then director of sales and marketing and now president. Before joining the Drexel Chemical Company, Stewart worked at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. He succeeds Ben Johnson, who will be retiring in September after 29 years with the organization.

The University of Wisconsin System regents’ leader has picked Tommy Thompson as the system’s interim president, replacing outgoing president Ray Cross, who announced his retirement last October. 

Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and UPS chief diversity and inclusion officer, has been added to the World Food Program USA’s board of directors. As a board member, Martinez will support World Food Program USA’s mission around the world on behalf of the United Nations World Food Program.

Benson Hill has selected Jason Bull as the new chief technology officer. Bull will lead the company's R&D and Data Science capabilities across predictive breeding, genomics, product discovery, big data engineering and software development. He has been granted 30 patents in digital agriculture, molecular breeding and robotic seed chipping.

Yvonne Lesicko, Ohio Farm Bureau vice president of public policy, passed away June 18 from an unexpected medical issue. She was 48. Known for her energy, enthusiasm, humor and ability to connect with all types of people, Lesicko began her career at Farm Bureau in 1994. Since 2012, Lesicko has managed OFBF’s legislative and regulatory team, representing the interests of Farm Bureau members with federal and state regulatory agencies. A visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, June 25 at Schoedinger Funeral Home, 6699 N. High St, Worthington, OH 43085.

Tim Zurliene, the BASF Global Trait Management & Licensing Lead, passed away after a courageous fight with cancer. Zurliene started his career with his family's Zurliene Spray Service, and later took on sales roles with Rohm and Haas, Maritz Marketing Research and Agrevo USA. In 2002, he was named director of marketing services for Bayer CropScience and served in a variety of leadership roles. He was a lover of the outdoors, especially the North Carolina mountains. Due to COVID, there will be no immediate services.

Phil Thomas, known as "Mr. Canola," passed away on June 13 at the age of 76. He began working for Alberta Agriculture in the 1970s when a new version of rapeseed was developed: canola. Within a few years of the crop's introduction, Thomas had written the book on how to grow it, the Canola Grower's Manual, which was published in 1984. He set out to travel the world and show other farmers how to grow the crop, leading him to become an expert in this area.

For more news, go to