Ben Maddox has been tapped as Bank of America’s western food, agriculture and wine executive. He will also continue in his role as global commercial banking market manager for the Central Valley. He has over 20 years of commercial banking experience, primarily in the Central Valley. He joined Bank of America in 2014 and is veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Amy Cordalis, Kimberly Gallagher, and Fern Steiner to the California Water Commission. Cordalis, a member of the Yurok Tribe, has been general counsel for the Yurok Tribe since 2016 and served as a staff attorney for the Tribe from 2014 to 2016. Gallagher has been farm operations manager at Erdman Farms since 2014 and owner and operator of Gallagher Farming Company since 2009. Steiner has been an attorney at Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool APC since 1987.
Analea Patterson has been appointed by Gov. Newsom as the new legal affairs secretary in the office of the governor. Patterson previously served as the chief deputy legal affairs secretary. Patterson succeeds Catherine Lhamon, who has served in the position since January 2019.
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Virginia Ag Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh as his selection to be the next Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Bronaugh currently serves as the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a position she has held since 2018. To read more on Bronaugh, click here.
Biden has also selected Janet McCabe to be the next deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. McCabe currently works as a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law. McCabe previously worked at the EPA as acting assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation during the Obama administration.
Western Growers have added Robert Medler to the team as the Arizona government affairs manager. Medler brings 15 years of government relations experience to Western Growers and will represent specialty crop producers in the fresh produce industry at the Arizona State Capitol. Medler previously led the government relations, advocacy and public policy efforts at various associations including the Tucson Metro Chamber and Southern Arizona Chamber of Commerce Association.
Western Growers (WG) has inaugurated nine members to the sixth class of the Future Volunteer Leaders Program. The individuals have been selected to represent the next generation of industry leaders for Western Growers. The individuals are as follows: Phillip Adam, Innovative Produce; Mason Brady, Homegrown Organics Farms; Kristen Smith Eshaya, JVSmith Companies; Rocky Hampton, LIDCO; Tracy Jones, Booth Ranches; Colby Pereira, Braga Fresh Family; Garret Powell, Peter Rabbit Farms; Amber Strohauer, Strohauer Farms; and Grant Talley, Talley Farms. Over the next two years, these individuals will shadow current members of the WG board of directors during board meetings to help learn more about federal, state and local issues affecting the Western fresh produce industry.
The California Walnut Board has brought on Josh Rahm as director of technical and regulatory affairs. Rahm previously worked for Wonderful Citrus, where he was director of global sourcing and procurement. He has also held roles with PepsiCo, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer.
Allied Grape Growers has hired Michael Haddox as manager of Central Coast operations, a newly created position. Haddox brings almost 25 years of experience in the wine industry, previously working for Agajanian Vineyards and Wine Company as a senior winery relations manager and winemaker.
Plenty, a vertical farming company, has tapped Dana Worth as senior vice president of commercial. Worth worked the last five years at Impossible Foods, most recently as vice president of sales. Worth helped roll out the debut of the plant-based Impossible Burger. Plenty has also promoted Megan Gillespie to vice president of farm operations and Daniel Malech to senior vice president of strategy and general counsel.
Justin Machell has been tapped as the next CEO of Highland Ag Solutions. Bringing more than 20 years of experience in the fresh produce and ranching communities, Machell joined Highland Ag in 2007. He held multiple positions over the 13-year period, from operations to ag-packaging sales manager. Current CEO and founder, Steve Maxwell will assume the role of chairman of the board for the company.
Greg Sweet has been promoted to a newly created position of chief operating officer for Monterey Mushrooms. Bringing over 24 years of experience, Sweet joined the company in 1997 and most recently was regional vice president of operations for the farms and facilities in the eastern United States.
James Hideo Iwamoto, a Los Angeles produce wholesaler, died Dec. 5, after complications with COVID-19. He was 68. Iwamoto spent 40 years in the wholesale produce business with companies such as Cal Fruit, Crown Produce, Potato Sales, Brostoff-Celle and Davalan Sales Inc. After he retired, he had a very active consulting career working with local produce businesses. After four years of consulting, he retired completely in the middle of 2019.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have announced the appointment of 67 members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. This group of appointed advisers will serve until 2025. To view the appointees, click here.
Kevin Kramp has been appointed to serve as the director of the Office of Regulatory Policy at the Farm Credit Administration, effective Jan. 21. He replaces David Grahn, who will return to the Department of Agriculture to serve as deputy general counsel. Kramp joined FCA in 2015 as executive assistant to board member Jeff Hall, and most recently served as deputy general counsel. Before joining FCA, Kramp worked on Capitol Hill as a staffer for the House Ag Committee.
Mark Poeschl has stepped down as CEO of the National FFA Organization. He has held the position since 2016, and before that he was a former agribusiness executive who came to FFA from Cargill. Poeschl was an FFA member himself and was a former Nebraska FFA state officer. For more on the story, click here.
Ben Thomas has joined the Environmental Defense Fund in the newly created position of senior policy director for agriculture. Thomas most recently was the director of the Montana Department of Agriculture. He has also held many leadership roles at the Department of Agriculture such as the deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, chief of staff for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, and special assistant to the administrator for the Risk Management Agency and program specialist for the Farm Service Agency.
Sarena Lin has been appointed by the supervisory board of Bayer AG to be on the company’s board of management and become the new chief transformation and talent officer, effective Feb. 1. Additionally, she will serve as labor director. Lin comes to Bayer from Elanco Animal Health, where she sits on the executive committee, responsible for transformation and technology. She will be based at the company’s headquarters in Germany.
Jordan Bonfitto has joined the Global Cold Chain Alliance as the new director of government affairs. Rachael Oury has also been named senior manager of industry promotion. Bonfitto previously worked at the Department of Agriculture as the director of external and intergovernmental affairs. Oury previously served as the senior communications and digital specialist at the Department of Energy. Additionally, she served as a special adviser to the director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Russell Group has brought on Justina Graff as a legislative assistant to help research and monitor legislative and regulatory policy issues. Graff previously worked at the House Agriculture Committee, where she interned before serving as deputy clerk. The Russell Group has also promoted Samantha Buchalter to director of legislative and regulatory affairs after three years with the firm. Alex Noffsinger has been promoted to legislative manager. Noffsinger has been with the firm since 2019 and before that, worked for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) hired Andrew Lentz, Amanda Raster, Stacy Cushenbery and Neville Millar to oversee its portfolio of sustainable agriculture projects. Lentz is the new policy director. He previously worked at Deloitte where he served as a senior lead in the firm's policy and government relations office. He has also held roles at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Raster is the new research manager. She previously served in the role of science director at U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action. Cushenbery will be a project manager focused on regenerative practices and community building. She previously worked for Solutions in the Land, where she managed projects focused on nutrient reduction and helped guide farmers to become better stewards of the land. Miller will also be a project manager, where he will be a team lead for planning, coordination, implementation, and evaluation of cropland pilot projects. Miller was a senior research associate and the science coordinator of the Long-term Ecological Research site at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University.
House Ag Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., has promoted Ashley Smith to deputy staff director of the committee and Mickeala Carter as the new director of communications and external affairs. Smith previously was the staff director of the subcommittee on commodity exchanges, energy, and credit. Before that, she served as legislative director for Chairman Scott. Carter previously served as an outreach coordinator for the Committee and before that, was the communications director and senior legislative assistant to Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas.
Ashley Smith has joined the International Dairy Foods Association as an executive assistant. Smith previously worked at the Department of Agriculture, most recently as the deputy director of scheduling in the office of the secretary.
Chloé Fowler has joined the American Hereford Association as associate director of youth marketing and education. Fowler was a former Agri-Pulse intern and a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University — San Luis Obispo.
AgReliant Genetics has brought on Christy Toedebusch to the executive leadership team as the new vice president of marketing, digital agriculture and business development. Before joining AgReliant, Toedebusch spent over a decade with Bayer Crop Science serving in senior marketing, product management and business innovation roles.
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