California Giant has hired Alan Ediger as the new vice president of sales and Jay Brown as the new CFO. Ediger brings 25 years of experience in the produce industry, most recently working in the role of vice president of sales at Taylor Farms’ deli division. Brown previously spent the last 16 years at Church Brothers Farms/True Leaf Holdings, most recently as the chief financial officer and partner. 

Bobalu Berries has added Jonathan Sparks in the sales department, based in Salinas. Sparks previously worked in sales at California Giant Berry Farms. Before that he was a senior sourcing representative-berry category manager for Robinson Fresh. 

Marco Azzaretti has returned to Key Technology in the new position of director of marketing. Most recently, he was senior manager of solutions marketing at Compac. Before that he was the automated inspection systems product manager at Key Technology. 

Steve Censky

Steve Censky

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky will be leaving the Department of Agriculture on Nov. 8 and returning to the helm of the American Soybean Association as CEO. Censky previously served in the same position for 21 years before coming to USDA.

John Lagemann has announced he is retiring from Deere & Co., effective Oct. 31. The current Deere & Co. vice president of sales and marketing for the agriculture and turf division for regions 3 and 4 has been with the company since 1982. Since that time, he has served in various leadership roles, including vice president of sales for the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and manager of John Deere operations in Australia, New Zealand and East Asia. Lagemann has also served on the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ board of directors since 2014.

President and Chief Financial Officer James Boyd announced he will retire from Marrone Bio Innovations. Boyd has served in the president and CFO position since March 2014. Before that, he was the CFO for Quantenna Communications, based in Fremont, Calif. A national search process for a new CFO is underway, and Boyd will continue in both posts during the search process.

Walt Barnhart has retired from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, effective Sept. 15. Barnhart was the director of federation communications. He has also worked in the role of director of trade media for the association.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the reappointment of Dr. Louis Anthony (Tony) Cox, Jr. and Dr. James Boylan to the Chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Cox is president of Cox Associates in Denver. He will continue serving as Chair of the CASAC and has expertise in risk assessment. Boylan is the manager of the Planning & Support Program in the Air Protection Branch of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Their second three-year terms will begin on Oct. 1.

Geri Berdak

Geri Berdak

Scott Valentine has been named chief executive officer of the Express Seed Company. Valentine most recently served the last eight years as president of North America for Syngenta Flowers. Overall, he spent 22 years with Syngenta where he held many leadership positions, including head of marketing services, lawn & garden in crop protection and led teams at Syngenta Biotechnology. He succeeds Dave Watt, who has provided 27 years of leadership at Express Seed Company. In 2001, he became the general manager and CEO.

The National Association of State Foresters has elected new officers to its executive committee. Joe Fox, state forester of Arkansas, has been tapped to lead NASF as president in 2021. Fox was appointed Arkansas state forester in 2012, and before that was the director of conservation forestry for The Nature Conservancy’s Arkansas field office. NASF elected Christopher Martin, state forester of Connecticut, as the association’s new vice president and Kacey KC, state forester of Nevada, as its new treasurer. Greg Josten, state forester of South Dakota, will serve on the executive committee as immediate past president.

Jim Jones, previous assistant administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Edward Hubbard Jr., general counsel for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), have been elected to Green Seal’s board of directors, effective immediately. Jones currently serves as president of Jones Environmental, a consulting firm that provides strategic advice to clients on issues related to chemical safety. Hubbard has been with RFA since 2011.

The Dairy Alliance board of directors has named Geri Berdak as its new CEO. Berdak started with the organization on Sept. 1. Berdak started her career as a nutritionist and educator for the St. Louis Dairy Council. She went on to hold positions as a nutritionist and marketer with Isagenix, Kerry's and PepsiCo, and also served as senior vice president of nutrition strategy and business development with the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center at Dairy Management Inc. Berdak has a Master of Business Administration from New York Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition from Missouri State University.

Novalent Biotech, a U.S. biotechnology engineering firm, has appointed Scott Brooks, senior vice president and head of food safety at Tyson Foods, to Novalent’s Scientific Advisory Board. Before joining Tyson Foods, Brooks was the senior vice president and head of food safety at Kraft Heinz. Before Kraft Heinz, Brooks was the senior vice president and head of food safety at PepsiCo.

Scott Brooks

Scott Brooks

Arcadia Biosciences, a company specializing in enhancing the quality and nutritional value of crops and food ingredients, has promoted Kevin Hodges to vice president of commercial operations and welcomed Tracy Baker to the company as vice president of product innovation. Hodges brings more than 20 years of management experience in the cereal grains industry. Before joining Arcadia in January 2020 as the general manager of GoodWheat, Hodges held senior roles in operations, marketing and IT digital systems at Bayer and Monsanto. Baker brings 40 years of experience in product formulation and commercialization, previously working for Mattson and Tropicana/PepsiCo.

Former House Ag Committee Chairman Robert ‘Bob’ Freeman Smith, R-Ore., passed away Sept. 21. A native of Portland, Freeman Smith’s career as a public servant began in 1960 when he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. He served in the state House until 1972 and then served in the state Senate from 1973 to 1982. He went on to serve in the House of Representatives for 12 years, first from 1983 to 1995 and then again from 1997 to 1999. He chaired the House Ag Committee for one term from 1997-1999.

Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist at Food & Water Watch, has passed away. Corbo was responsible for food-related legislative and regulatory issues. He was known to be a fierce champion and fighter for the health and safety of communities, workers and the food supply system. As a senior lobbyist, Corbo was a leading national expert and advocate on food safety, consumer safety and worker health.

Veteran farm broadcaster Evan Slack passed away Sept. 19. He was 86. Slack’s farm broadcasting career spanned 68 years, including most recently as owner of the Evan Slack Network based in Denver. His broadcasts reached 45 states, four Canadian Provinces and Australia. He was a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and was inducted into the NAFB Hall of Fame in 2009.

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