Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Liane Randolph as the new chair of the California Air Resources Board. Randolph has been a Commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission since 2105. She was also deputy secretary and general counsel at the California Natural Resources Agency from 2011 to 2014. Newsom also appointed John Balmes, Davina Hurt, Gideon Kracov and Tania Pacheco-Werner to the Board. 

Newsom has appointed Dee Dee Myers to serve as senior advisor to the Governor and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Myers first joined Newsom’s staff in May as a volunteer at the peak of COVID-19, working to support the Governor and his team. In her career, Myers served as the executive vice president of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs for Warner Bros., and before that, she was a managing director of the Glover Park Group. Myers also served as White House Press Secretary during President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Dee Dee Myers

Dee Dee Myers

Newsom’s chief of staff, Ann O’Leary, has announced she is leaving her post in pursuit of a job with the Biden administration. O’Leary has served as Newsom’s chief of staff for the past for the past two years.

Timothy Escamilla has been promoted to president of Dole Fresh Vegetables at Dole Food Co., succeeding Michael Solomon, who is leaving the company. Escamilla has over 25 years of experience in senior-level roles at Dole Foods. He worked as vice president of operations for Dole Berry Co. in 2014-2015 and then became senior vice president of agricultural operations. He left Dole for a stint to become vice president of operations and then chief operations officer at Tanimura & Antle and then re-joined Dole Fresh Vegetables in 2018.

Westerlay Orchids has added Scott Zoch to its staff as the new chief operations officer. Zoch was previously the CEO at Color Spot Nurseries and before that, he was the vice president of marketing and sales for Color Spot Holdings.

California Avocado Commission has elected new board members. Elected as chairman was Rob Grether, Ryan Rochefort, vice-chairman, Jason Cole, treasurer and Jessica Hunter, secretary. On the marketing committee, Gary Caloroso succeeds Bob Lucy as the committee chair. Caloroso is the regional business development director of Giumarra.

President-elect Joe Biden has asked Tom Vilsack to return to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Ag Secretary. Vilsack served as secretary for 8 years during the Obama Administration, and is currently the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. To read more on Vilsack, click here.

Biden has also selected Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Representative. Tai currently serves as the chief trade counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee. During the Obama Administration, Tai worked at USTR as the chief counsel for China enforcement. To learn more about Tai, click here.

Katherine Tai

Katherine Tai

President-elect Joe Biden also announced plans to nominate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary, the president-elect said in a statement on Tuesday. Several media outlets are also reporting that Biden will name Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, as secretary of energy, and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to lead a newly created Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

Seth Meyer will be returning to the Department of Agriculture to assume the position of chief economist. Meyer takes the place of Rob Johansson, who has held the position since 2015 and plans to depart USDA at the end of January and accept a position as the associate director of economics and policy analysis at the American Sugar Alliance. Meyer comes from the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, where he served as an associate director and research professor. To read more on Meyers, click here.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services has announced new leadership changes in the department. Alan Dowdy, associate deputy administrator for policy management in Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), is retiring and Matt Royer, currently PPQ’s associate deputy administrator for field operations, will succeed Dowdy. Steve Bennett, currently executive director of the Emergency Management, Safety, and Security Division (EMSSD) and Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES), will move to Veterinary Services as one of the program’s associate deputy administrators. Ibrahim Shaqir, currently Biotechnology Regulatory Services’ (BRS) associate deputy administrator, will move to PPQ as the associate deputy administrator for trade. Jessica Mahalingappa, currently International Services’ (IS) associate deputy administrator, will join BRS as their associate deputy administrator. Valerie Defeo, a recent Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Program (CDP) graduate who works in PPQ, will become IS’ associate deputy administrator. Darya Chehrezad, currently a Senior Foreign Service Officer in Mexico, will begin a domestic rotation as associate deputy administrator for Trade and Capacity Building in IS. Doug Nash, Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services’ (MRPBS) deputy administrator, is also retiring and Robert Huttenlocker will return to APHIS from USDA’s Office of the Inspector General as MRPBS’ deputy administrator, a role he previously held in 2017.  

Incoming House Ag Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., has announced Parish Braden will be the Republican staff director of the House Agriculture Committee. Braden currently serves as Republican staff director for the House Committee on Natural Resources. Braden has served as deputy staff director and communications director for the Natural Resources Committee. Before that, he served as communications director and policy advisor to Rep. Thompson.

Elizabeth Rowland has been promoted to the chief human resource and program officer at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). She most recently was NASDA's director of human resources.

Elizabeth Rowland

Elizabeth Rowland

Benjamin Perkins has been tapped to serve as the new CEO of Wholesome Wave. He brings over 20 years of experience as a public health professional, most recently working for the American Heart Association as the vice president of health strategies.

The Hill has released its annual list of top lobbyist and among it were a few familiar faces in the agriculture industry: Mike Parrish, Bayer US; Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association; Kip Eideberg, Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Nicholas Giordano, National Pork Producers Council; Emily Skor, Growth Energy; Mary Kay Thatcher, Syngenta; Andrew Walmsley, R.J. Karney and Scott Bennett, American Farm Bureau Federation; John Bowman and Alexandra Adams, Natural Resources Defense Council; Carrie Calvert, Feeding AmericaKen Cook, Environmental Working Group; Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund; Candace Spencer, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Abigail Blunt, The Kraft Heinz Co.; Ryan Weston, Sugar Cane League; and Bob Filippone, Merck & Co.

Aimpoint Research has hired Tommy Batts as a research analyst. Batts holds a master of science in marketing research from Michigan State. Jack Lumpe was brought on as and operational excellence coordinator. He is a recent graduate of Gannon University. Eric Williams has been hired as the newest Agri-Food WatchDesk analyst. He most recently worked as a contractor for American Electric Power.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has appointed 28 members to serve on the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. All appointed members will serve a three year term beginning in Feb. The appointed members are: Caleb Plyler, Ark.; Sallie Miller, Colo.; Sarah K. Childs, Fla.; Tucker Shaw, Idaho; Philip L. Perry, Kan.; Trista Brown Priest, Kan., Andy Bishop, Ky.; Leon James, Mo.; Katie Sue Cooper, Mont.; Turk Stovall, Mont.; Gina M. Hudson, Neb.; Steve Wolfe, Neb.; Bill Baldwin, Neb.; Raymond Erbele, N.D.; Cheryl DeVuyst, Okla.; Jimmy Taylor, Okla.; Daniel M. Kniffen, Pa.; Bill Slovek, S.D., April Bonds, Texas; J. Ryan Moorhouse, Texas; Mark Brent, Texas; Michael White, Texas; Steve Springer, Wis.; Melissa Daniels, Calif.; Jeffrey Isenmann, Mich.; Kimberly A. D’Anella, N.J.; Rob Williams, Md.; and Stephen Sothmann, D.C., (one-year term).

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