The Senate unanimously confirmed Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Representative on a bipartisan 98-0 vote. Tai previously served as the top trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee and chief counsel on China trade enforcement at USTR during the Obama administration. To read more on Tai’s confirmation, click here.

Katherine Tai

Katherine Tai

John NewtonJeremy Witte, and Macie Kelly will join the Senate Ag Committee’s GOP staff. Newton will serve as the chief economist. He most recently held the same title with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Witte was hired as professional staff for Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., covering research and dairy issues. Witte previously worked on the House Ag Committee as professional staff for Reps. GT Thompson, R-Pa. and Mike Conaway, R-Texas. Kelly is now a staff assistant on the Committee. She previously worked in Boozman’s personal office as a legislative correspondent.

Kristi Boswell has joined Alston and Bird as a counsel helping to advise agricultural and food clients on regulatory and legislative issues. Boswell previously served as a senior adviser to former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. She also worked in the White House and was the director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

After 20 years working for Bunge, Raul Padilla has announced he will retire as president of global operations, effective Dec. 31. He first joined Bunge in 1997 with the Ceval acquisition and has been in his current position since May 2019. His operational responsibilities will be distributed internally over the coming months. Julio Garros will take over responsibilities for external relationships within South America. Garros has 19 years of experience with Bunge, most recently working in the role of global transformation leader for agribusiness.

Perdue Farms has named Lynn Clark senior vice president and chief human resources officer. Bringing more than 30 years of experience to Perdue Farms, Clark most recently served as the chief human resources officer for Colfax Corporation, a medical technology company.

Jacinth Smiley has been appointed by Hormel Foods to be the new group vice president of corporate strategy. She replaces Jim Splinter, who retired last year. She most recently served as vice president and chief accounting officer at LyondellBasell Industries.

Neal Gutterson, former chief technology officer for Corteva, has joined Radicle Growth as a partner and chief technology officer. He brings 40 years of ag tech experience to the position and will also serve as chair of the newly formed advisory board.

Sheryl Kunickis, director of USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy, has announced she will retire June 30 from her post. She has served in the position since May 2010.

Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, a longtime House Ag member and current vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, will not run for reelection to the House next year. Vela is currently serving in his fifth term. President Joe Biden appointed Vela's wife, Rose Vela, a retired Texas state district judge and Texas appellate justice, to run the president’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., have announced subcommittee assignments. The Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade will be chaired by Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Ranking Member will be Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. The Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy will be chaired by Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Ranking Member will be Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. The Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources will be chaired by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Ranking Member will be Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. The Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research will be chaired by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ranking Member will be Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. The Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security will be chaired by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member will be Sen. Tina Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

Jared Henderson has moved over to the Senate, where he has started a new job with Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., as senior agriculture adviser. He will cover issues related to agriculture, trade and transportation. Henderson previously worked for former Congressman TJ Cox, D-Calif., as his deputy chief of staff, and as an ag staffer for former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., has hired Audra Weeks as his new press secretary. She most recently was the deputy press secretary on the Trump Campaign as well as in the press shop of former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Erin Collins has taken a new job with Platform Communications as a director. She will be based in Washington, D.C. Collins previously worked for Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Ohio., as his communications director.

Amanda Fitzmorris has joined the staff of Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., as his new press secretary. Fitzmorris previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, most recently as a special adviser in the Office of Research and Development. Travis Martinez has also been promoted to legislative director in Newhouse’s office. He handles the portfolio for agriculture, trade, labor, international affairs, and transportation.

Al Smith

Al Smith

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has announced results of elections to lead the state’s five grain commodity commissions. The Kansas Corn Commission is now led by Brian Baalman, district one; Dennis McNinch, district two; and Steve Rome, district three. The Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission is now led by Jon Berning, district two, and Brant Peterson, district three. No one ran for district one, so the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission will appoint this position. No one ran for commissioner in districts one, two, or three for the Kansas Soybean Commission, which will now appoint this combined position. No candidates ran for commissioner in districts one, two, or three for the Kansas Sunflower Commission, which is now responsible for appointing these positions. The Kansas Wheat Commission is now led by Brian Linin, district one; Ronald Suppes, district two; and Gary Millershaski, district three.

Corteva has announced an agreement with Starboard Value LP and its affiliates that adds David EverittJanet Giesselman, and Kerry Preete to Corteva's board of directors, effective immediately. Their term will expire at the company's upcoming annual meeting of stockholders, which is scheduled for May. Additionally, the company announced that Karen Grimes will join the company's board, effective immediately, with her term also expiring at the annual meeting. Everitt most recently served as interim chief executive officer of Harsco Corporation from February 2014 to August 2014. Before that, he had been with Deere and Company since 1975. He is currently retired. Giesselman most recently served as president of NH Enterprise. After 20 years with the firm, Grimes retired as senior managing director, partner and equity portfolio manager in 2018 from Wellington Management Group. Preete spent over three decades with the Monsanto Company, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

The American Egg Board has announced nine new members and nine alternates to be added to the board and represent egg producers around the country. To view the full list, click here.

Al Smith, co-founder of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, died March 19 at his home in Florida. He was 94. Smith was a noted Kentucky journalist and once owned seven weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee. He hosted and produced Kentucky Educational Television’s “Comment on Kentucky” show for 33 years. He took leave from 1980-82 to serve as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission for Presidents Carter and Reagan. In 1985, he sold his newspapers and turned his focus to doing more civic work. In the late 1990s, He and his friend Rudy Abramson thought up and started the Institute for Rural Journalism.

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