USDA has tapped Monica Rainge to serve as the deputy assistant secretary for civil rights. Rainge is an agricultural lawyer and mediator and has worked in the public and private agricultural sectors for more than 25 years. She most recently served as the director of land retention and advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.

Monica Rainge

Monica Rainge

Julie Su’s nomination has been sent to the Senate to become deputy secretary of labor. Other recently submitted nominations include Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of transportation; and David Turk to be deputy secretary of energy.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has been named the new chair of the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. Baldwin has served on the panel since 2015, and will also serve as a member on the subcommittee on energy and water development.

Tim Putnam has been selected to serve on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Putnam brings over 30 years of health care experience and currently serves as the president and CEO of Margaret Mary Health, a community hospital in Batesville, Ind. He is a past president of the Indiana Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Association.

The National 4-H Council has selected Ivan Heredia as its new senior vice president and chief marketing officer, effective March 1. Heredia previously worked at the Walt Disney Co. as vice president. He also served as an adviser and executive mentor on Disney Channel’s leader and learning advisory board.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria has officially been tapped to lead the World Trade Organization. Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist and former finance minister. She will assume the post on March 1.

Jennifer Van der Heide has left Capitol Hill for Department of the Interior to be chief of staff. She previously was the chief of staff for Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., who has been nominated to be the Interior Secretary. Andrew Wallace has also joined Interior as the director of congressional affairs. He previously was the chief of staff for Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

Laura Daniel Davis has moved to Interior as the principal deputy assistant secretary of land and mineral management. Davis worked at the department during the Obama administration as chief of staff to Interior secretaries Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar. She most recently worked at the National Wildlife Federation as the chief of policy and advocacy. To view a full list of Interior appointments, click here.

The National Wildlife Federation has not filled Davis’s former position, but Abby Tinsley has been promoted to associate vice president of policy and government affairs. She was previously the senior director of government affairs.

Dustin Davidson

Dustin Davidson

Dustin Davidson has been named the new director of government relations for Waterways Council Inc. Davidson most recently served as a professional staff member for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, addressing energy, environment, and resiliency issues. He also served as Rep. Garret Graves’s, R-La., legislative assistant focusing on energy, environment, agriculture and trade issues.

New staff additions have been made for the minority side of the Senate Ag Committee. Pam Miller will be senior professional staff for nutrition and food aid. Miller comes to the committee from USDA, where she served as the administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service. Dudley Hoskins is professional staff and counsel for forestry, pesticides, biotech and the Agricultural Marketing Service. Hoskins most recently worked at USDA as a senior adviser. Before joining USDA, Hoskins worked at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture as public policy counsel. Skylar Sowder is now professional staff for Title I commodity programs, grain inspection and crop insurance issues. She previously worked in the personal office of Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., as his agriculture legislative assistant. Patrick Creamer also comes over from Boozman’s personal staff, and is now the minority communications director.

Chance Hunley has left the Senate Ag Committee and now serves as a legislative assistant to Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kan. He covers the portfolio for agriculture, natural resources, energy, environment, transportation, immigration, and technology. On the Senate Ag Committee he was a legislative assistant to former Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and covered commodities, crop insurance, conservation, food safety, and livestock issues.

DeShawn Blanding is a new staff assistant on the majority side of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Blanding previously was a policy and advocacy coordinator at Rural Coalition.

Caleb Crosswhite has returned to the House Ag Committee as the Republican senior counsel. He has been at the Department of Agriculture the last two years as a senior adviser and counsel. Before that, he was former Rep. Mike Conaway’s, R-Texas, deputy chief counsel and professional staff member on the Ag Committee.

Craig Berning has joined Rep. Randy Feenstra’s, R-Iowa., staff as the legislative assistant covering the portfolio for agriculture, trade, energy, environment, telecommunication, and interior. Berning previously was a legislative aide for Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. Matt Boyd Leopold is Feenstra’s chief of staff and Aaron Britt is his communications director.

James Cho has started a new role with the Biden administration, serving as the deputy director of legislative, congressional and intergovernmental affairs with the Office of Personnel Management. He most recently served as Rep. Norma Torres’s, D-Calif., chief of staff. Matt Alpert has come on as Torres’s new chief of staff.

Alicia Molt-West has taken a new job at the White House as the special assistant to the president and is also the house legislative affairs liaison. Molt-West previously was Rep. Lori Trahan’s, D-Mass., chief of staff.

Beverly Hart has taken over the agriculture portfolio in Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s, D-N.Y., office. Hart is a senior legislative assistant and also covers environment, labor, small business, energy, public lands and natural resources issues.

Andy Harding is now chief counsel to Sen. John Neely Kennedy, R-La. Harding previously worked on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee under Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., as a senior counsel.

Natalie Krings has left the office of Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., where she served as his communications director. She has taken a new job with the Federal Housing Finance Agency as a communications specialist.

James Green has joined the staff of Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-N.M., as a legislative assistant. He will cover the portfolio for energy, environmental protection, foreign trade, public lands and natural resources, science and technology, and transportation.

Chris Griswold has left the office of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., where he was a legislative assistant covering the agriculture, energy, environment, and labor portfolio. His position has not been filled.

Julia Debes no longer serves as the communications manager at the U.S. Grains Council. She now serves as the director of agricultural communications for Working Lands for Wildlife. Before Grains Council, Debes was the communications director for the National Sorghum Producers.

Anthony Ching has left the office of Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii. Ben Chao has taken over the portfolio for appropriations, oceans, commerce, and science; and Kainan Miranda has taken over the portfolio for the interior, appropriations, natural resources, environment, and transportation.

Mandy Gunasekara has joined The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure board of directors. Gunasekara is the former chief of staff at the Environmental Protection Agency and earlier in the administration, she served as the principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.

Keith Coble, distinguished professor and head of the department of agricultural economics at Mississippi State, has been named vice president for the university’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Coble has been a MSU faculty member for more than 20 years. He brings Capitol Hill experience to the position, previously working on the Senate Ag Committee as a chief economist.

Ethan Robertson was elected as the new president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants. Robertson works as a business consultant with Farm Credit East, located in Auburn, Maine. Robertson previously served as the president-elect and vice president/secretary.

Kent Fountain

Kent Fountain

Kent Fountain of Georgia was reelected chairman of the National Cotton Council for 2021. Ted Schneider of Louisiana was reelected to the position of vice chairman.

Elliot Belilos has joined Practus Law Firm as a partner representing businesses and trade associations focusing on litigation and regulatory matters relating to consumer product safety, occupational safety and health, and environmental law, which includes pesticide and antimicrobial product registration and enforcement. Belilos is a former contract principal at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz, PC and equity partner at Keller and Heckman.

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, has been tapped to be a co-chair of the Texas Ag Task Force. Arrington represents the 19th district of Texas.

Staci Martin is the new director of government affairs at AgriBank. Martin previously ran her own consulting business, Martin+Co., and before that, worked for Compeer Financial as vice president of corporate engagement.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has tapped Matthew Galvanoni as global chief financial officer, effective March 15. Galvanoni served as vice president of finance at Ingredion Incorporated since 2016.

The National Association of Conservation Districts has tapped new leadership. Michael Crowder, Wash., was sworn in as president. Kim LaFleur, Mass., was elected first vice president; Ian Cunningham, Minn., was elected as second vice president; Gary Blair, Miss., was elected to serve as the association’s secretary-treasurer; and immediate past president is Tim Palmer of Iowa.

Steve Uram has left the National Corn Growers Association where he worked as the manager of grassroots advocacy and leadership programs. His position has not yet been filled.

Ford B. West, 73, of Davidsonville, Md., died on Feb. 14 after fighting a courageous 15-year battle with metastatic, castrate resistant, prostate cancer. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he attended North Carolina State University where he earned a Master of Science in Food Science. He began his professional career with the National Canners Association and in 1979, he joined The Fertilizer Institute, later becoming president in 2005. West was with the Fertilizer Institute for 34 years.

Past President of the American Sheep Industry Association, Glen Fisher, died suddenly on Feb. 8. He was 74. He was president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association in 2001-2002 and ASI president from 2009-2010.

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