Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will retire at the end of his term but his portrait, which was unveiled during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon, will continue to remind us of his contributions. The portrait will hang in the committee’s hearing room next year, to go with another version over in the House Ag Committee. Roberts is famously the first lawmaker to chair both committees and to author farm bills from both chambers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who attended the unveiling ceremony, noted Roberts had chaired the Ethics and Intelligence committees but that Ag was “the gavel he was born to wield.” McConnell said Roberts “cornered the market on delivering results under all conditions.” The committee’s ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow, presented Roberts with chocolate-covered cherries, a top commodity from her home state of Michigan, and praised his work in developing and expanding today’s crop insurance program. “I’m not kidding when I say we might not have had the (Michigan cherry) industry without crop insurance,” she said. The ceremony included recorded tributes from the likes of Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue; former secretaries Dan Glickman and Mike Johanns; House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and many of the numerous former Roberts staff members who are now involved in the industry around D.C.

Kailee Tkacz Buller, chief of staff to former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky for the past year and a half, has been named president of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO). She succeeds Robert L. Collette. “Collette leaves big shoes to fill, but Kailee is more than capable,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, an ISEO member. Buller had been chief of staff in USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area and a policy adviser in its Office of Congressional Relations early in the Trump Administration. Before government service, she was director of legislative and regulatory food policy at the Corn Refiners Association, director of government affairs at SNAC International, manager of government affairs at the National Grocers Association and research analyst at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Gary Woodward, former chief of staff to Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., has joined the H&R Block Washington office as director of federal government relations. He reports to Dan Turrentine, top lobbyist for H&R Block and one-time chief of staff to former Rep. Jared Polis, now governor of Colorado.

U.S. Senator-elect Roger Marshall, R-Kan., has named Brent Robertson chief of staff in his Senate office and Katie Sawyer state director. Robertson has been chief of staff in Marshall’s House of Representatives office since 2016 and Sawyer has been district director of his first congressional district office since 2017.

Two lobbyists on the Biden-Harris transition team looking at USDA and the Farm Credit Administration have been granted waivers from the team’s ethics rules that require current lobbyists or those who registered to lobby within the past year to obtain the waiver from the transition’s general counsel. Among those granted waivers, according to The Wall Street Journal, are Andrea Delgado, a currently registered lobbyist for the United Farm Workers Foundation, and Celeste LaQuita Honeysucker, who was registered as a lobbyist for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union until earlier this year.

Louisa Parker-Smith has been named VP and chief sustainability officer at AGCO, the Georgia-based farm equipment maker. She earlier was global human resources business partner, senior manager global programs and special assistant to the chairman, director of AGCO Zambia, and head of distribution development and external affairs for Africa, based in Lusaka.

Karen Totland has been promoted to VP and chief sustainability officer at FMC Corporation, Princeton, N.J. She has been VP global procurement during her 10 years at FMC. Totland had been VP global purchasing at Firmenich, New Jersey-based flavor and fragrance manufacturer.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has named Steve Dodge its new director of state regulatory affairs. He has more than two decades of experience in outreach, communication and lobbying for the American Petroleum Institute (API), recently as executive director of the Massachusetts/New England Petroleum Council.

Steve Dodge

Steve Dodge, NBB

The National Confectioners Association has added Steve McCroddan as its chief financial officer and Kyle Jordan as vice president of membership and meetings. McCroddan previously was the CFO of both the Consumer Brands Association — formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association — and the Food Products Association. Jordan earlier was managing director of learning and conferences at the Financial Planning Association.

UNFI, a North America Food wholesaler, and Meijer, a chain of supercenters in the Midwest, have been named U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions in an announcement from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Champions are U.S. businesses and organizations who pledge to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations by 50 percent by the year 2030. UNFI Director of Sustainability and Social Impact Alisha Real called it “simply unacceptable that so much is wasted.” Earlier 2030 Champions include Ahold Delhaize, Amazon, Aramark, Blue Apron, Bon Appetit, Browns Superstores, Campbells, Compass Group, ConAgra, Farmstead, General Mills, Giant Eagle, Hello Fresh, Hilton, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Las Vegas Sands, Marley Spoon, MGM Resorts, Mom’s Organic Market, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Sprouts, The Wendy’s Company, Unilever, Walmart, Walt Disney World, Wegmans, Weis, Whiston’s and Yum! Brands.

Jennifer (Jenn) Heiss has been named national information and communications officer for the USDA-funded Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4) at North Carolina State University. IR-4 coordinates research necessary to register pest control agents or crops such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices and ornamentals. Heiss has more than 10 years' experience in multistate and local government agencies and served as an officer in the North Carolina Association of Government Information Officers.

The National Pork Board (NPB) has reelected David Newman, a farrow-to-finish Berkshire producer from Myrtle, Mo., and associate professor of animal sciences at Arkansas State University, to a second term as president of the checkoff-funded board. Other officers are Vice President Gene Noem, Ames, Iowa, and Treasurer Heather Hill, Greenfield, Ind. Al Wulfekuhle, Quasqueton, Iowa, was appointed to a three-year term on the board.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) elected Pat Binger, who leads international meat sales for Cargill Protein North America in Wichita its new chair, succeeding Idaho cattle feeder Cevin Jones. Mark Swanson, CEO of Colorado-based Birko Corporation, was named chair-elect; Dean Meyer, producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, vice chair; and Randy Spronk, Edgerton, Minn., pork producer, secretary-treasurer. USMEF presented its 2020 Distinguished Service Award to Richard Wortham, executive VP of the Texas Beef Council, and its Michael J. Mansfield Award to Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, retired assistant U.S. Trade Representative for agricultural trade.

Katelyn Harbert, a senior in agricultural communications and journalism and global food systems leadership at Kansas State University, was given the 2020 Forrest Bassford Student Award by the Livestock Publications Council at the LPC annual meeting Nov. 9. Other finalists for the award were Kylie Harlan, Texas Tech University; Hannah Chambers, Texas A&M University; and Lacy Jackson, Texas Tech University.

Gary Hirshberg, the former Stonyfield Farms yogurt entrepreneur who founded the Just Label It organization to advocate labeling of foods with products of agricultural biotechnology, says his group “is retiring at the end of the year — but the Only Organic campaign is taking up the fight.” The successor group,, is supported by more than 100 large and small organic food companies and associations. It advertises itself as a nonprofit voice to educate the public about “why organic farming and products are better for families and the environment.”

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has chosen four food safety fellows who are pursuing doctoral degrees with an interest in food safety and public health. They are Darwin Bandoy, University of California Davis; Aaron Beczkiewicz, Ohio State University; Colette Nickodem, Texas A&M University; and Ilya Slizovskiy, University of Minnesota. During their fellowships, they will collaborate with FSIS scientists on the agency’s research priorities. 

Lyle Orwig

Lyle Orwig

Kenlon Johannes has announced plans to retire in early 2021 as CEO of the Kansas Soybean Association after taking over as executive director of the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA). He replaces Andy Tauer, who left SAA to join the Indiana Farm Bureau. Johannes, a Nebraska native, has been executive director of both the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association and their checkoff boards, and executive director at Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council before taking the Kansas post.,

Lyle E. Orwig, co-founder and chairman of the Hartland, Wis., food and agriculture marketing and public relations agency C.O.nxt (formerly Charleston/Orwig) is retiring after 28 years. Orwig began his career as a public relations account executive at Reiman Associates in Milwaukee, joined Century Communications in Skokie, Ill., and was VP and director of public relations at Bader Rutter, Milwaukee. Among his clients over the years were Allis-Chalmers, Case IH, Dairyland Seed, Dow, New Holland, Smithfield Foods and Zoetis. He has received awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) National Agri Marketing Association, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, University of Illinois ACES Alumni Association and the Livestock Publications Council.

Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation, manufacturer of center pivot irrigation equipment and other infrastructure equipment and technology, promoted Randy Wood, now its chief operating officer, to president and CEO and a member of its board effective Jan. 1 to succeed the retiring Tim Hassinger. Since joining Lindsay in 2008, Wood has served in a variety of leadership roles in the company’s irrigation business. Hassinger joined Lindsay in October 2017.

Former U.S. Sen. Roger W. Jepsen, an Iowa Republican who served one term in the Senate from 1979 to 1985, died Nov. 13 at a hospice in Bettendorf, Iowa. He was 91. Jepsen chaired the Joint Economic Committee and served on the Senate Agriculture Committee before his 1984 upset defeat by Democrat Tom Harkin, then a member of the House. He had been a county supervisor, state senator and Iowa’s lieutenant governor before defeating Sen. Dick Clark, a Democrat, in 1978. Following his defeat, Jepsen served as chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board from and chairman of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FIEC).

Lilla Richards, a former writer at USDA who was elected to one term on the board of supervisors in Virginia’s Fairfax County in 1987, died Sept. 22 at a retirement home in Arlington, Va., of congestive heart failure. She was 81. She was an advocate of controls on county growth amid a major expansion of traffic and sprawl and was defeated for reelection.

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