The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in California has appointed Wendy Rash as the new State Water Quality Specialist on the Ecological Sciences Staff in Davis, Calif. Rash previously served as district conservationist in both Solano and Napa counties and as a soil conservationist in El Dorado, Yolo, and Solano counties.
Speaker Anthony Rendon has appointed Assemblymember Eloise Reyes, D- San Bernardino, as the next Assembly Majority Leader for the 2021-22 Session. Assemblymember Reyes has served in the Assembly since 2016. She will be the fourth woman and the first Latina ever to serve as Assembly Majority Leader in California.
Nathan Click has left the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom where he served as Newsom’s communication director. Click left the post to start his own political strategy and communications firm. Before becoming Newsom’s communications director, Click served as his communications director on his 2018 campaign. Before that, he was Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ campaign communications director for her 2016 Senate campaign. Newsom has named Jesse Melgar to succeed Click as communications director. Melgar joined Newsom’s press office in Jan. 2019., and previously worked for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
After 36 years with Mission Produce, Jim Donovan is retiring. In 1984, after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in agriculture business, Donovan joined Mission Produce as an export sales manager. He spent most of his career in his current position of senior vice president of global information and industry affairs. Throughout his career, he worked on developing and growing distribution sources in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia and New Zealand.
Martha Scott Poindexter will be returning to the Senate Agriculture Committee as staff director for GOP Sen. John Boozman. Poindexter previously led the committee staff from 2005-2010 under Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss. She has served on staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee and most recently was vice president for government and industry affairs for Bunge. To learn more about Poindexter, watch her Meet the Farm Hand interview.
The American Seed Trade Association has hired Senate Ag veteran Janae Brady as its new senior director of government affairs. Brady previously served on Sen. Pat Roberts', R-Kan., Ag Committee staff as a senior professional staff member. She advised Roberts on issues related to international trade, agricultural research, biotechnology, crop protection and agricultural defense. Before the committee, Brady worked on trade and food security policy issues at Gordley Associates.
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Rep. Marcia Fudge to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to media reports. Prior to the offer to lead the housing agency, Fudge, a member of the House Ag Committee, had been in the running to lead the Agriculture Department. Several other media outlets are reporting that former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be Biden’s pick for USDA.
Biden has also selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra, a former member of Congress, played a prominent role in the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. As AG, he’s also supported environmental justice advocates on farmworker rights, anti-pesticide groups in challenging federal regulations and environmental organizations in lawsuits against agricultural interests.
The House Republican Steering Committee has identified and selected the representatives to serve as ranking members in the 117th Congress. Leading the Republicans on the House Ag Committee is Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. Thompson previously served as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee and most recently as ranking member of three of its subcommittees. Heading up the Energy and Commerce Committee is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. She served as chair of the House Republican Conference for six years, and is currently the co-chair of the Rural Health Caucus. Rep. Kay Granger, Texas, was tapped to lead the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Bruce Westerman, Arkansas, will lead the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois, has been selected to lead the Veterans Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Agriculture Committee.
Congressional Western Caucus Chairman-elect Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., has named Sean V. O’Brien as the organization’s new executive director for the 117th Congress. He succeeds Tim Charters, who will continue to serve the Western Caucus through the 116th Congress, ending Jan. 2. O’Brien currently serves as the deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Newhouse and handles the energy, forestry, and natural resources portfolios. His portfolio also includes Newhouse’s work on the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee.
Heath Tarbert, Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman, has announced the names of the 22 members to serve on the Agricultural Advisory Committee’s new Agricultural Futures Contracts with Open Interest Subcommittee. The subcommittee will be chaired by Joseph Janzen, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. To view the full listing of members added to the subcommittee, click here.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has brought on Ronald “RJ” Karney, Jr. as the new senior director of public policy. Karney most recently served as director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Karney brings experience in the areas of rural development, broadband, appropriations and budget, and other financial security issues impacting farmers and ranchers. He started with NASDA on Monday.
Samuel Kieffer is headed to the American Farm Bureau Federation to be the new vice president of public affairs. He currently serves as the chief administrative officer for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. He has been with PFB since 2005 and also is a 12-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, where he served as a logistics officer. Kieffer starts with AFBF in January.
Sarah Grace Fowler has been promoted to associate director of communications for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and will handle all communications related to NASDA. Amanda Culp has transitioned her role to handle events for the association and is now the senior director of events.
Lisa Safarian is stepping down from her post as president of crop sciences of North America for Bayer. Safarian has worked in various positions the past 30 years, holding roles with Bayer and Monsanto. Brett Begemann will step in as interim lead for the crop science business for the U.S. and Canada until a long-term solution is put in place.
Sarah Dean has taken a new role at John Deere, now working as the global public policy manager. She previously was the senior manager of international affairs. Dean has been with John Deere for 11 years.
The American Agricultural Law Association has selected Tyler Buswell of Utah to serve as its new president-elect. Ashely Ellixson of Arizona and Paul Goeringer of Maryland have also joined the board as new directors. Buswell succeeds Pat Dillon of Iowa, who will become the immediate past president.
The National Chicken Council has brought on Polina Burko as the new director of meetings and member services. Burko brings 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with a focus on event planning and management. The native of Russia is currently perusing her master’s degree in Business Administration.
The International Poultry Council has reelected Robin Horel as president for 2021. Horel serves as president of the Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council. Ricardo Santin has been selected to serve as vice president. He serves as vice president of the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein. Jim Sumner, president of Poultry Export Group, will serve as treasurer.
The Plant Based Foods Association has added three new members to its 2021 board of directors: Armetha Pihlstrom, National Account Manager, Impossible Foods; GW Chew, Founder and CEO, Something Better Foods; and Sadrah Schadel, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, No Evil Foods. Their terms begin Jan. 1.
National Association of Conservation Districts has named Michael Wilson this year’s recipient of the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Conservationist of the Year Award.
Gene Gregory, former president and CEO of United Egg Producers (UEP), passed away Dec. 3. Gregory began his career in the 1950s, working for Corn Belt Hatcheries in Gibson City, Ill., where he eventually worked his way up to vice president and general manager. In 1970, Gregory started serving on committees for the Midwest UEP and eventually chaired the producer committee for animal welfare. In 1992, Gregory was tapped to serve UEP as its senior vice president and in 2007, he was appointed UEP president and CEO. A memorial service will be held in Gibson City, Ill., in early 2021. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the First Baptist Church of Gibson City, 628 South Church Street, Gibson City, IL 60936.
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