Laura Cattani was appointed to the Kern County Water Agency board, becoming the second woman to serve on the board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency. Cattani works on her family farm near Bakersfield, Calif.

Jason Okabayashi has been tapped to be the new chief financial officer for Pacific Trellis Fruit. Okabayashi previously worked as the chief financial officer for Ready Roast Nut Company, located in Madera, Calif. He has also been in finance related positions with Agriculture Capital Operations, POM Wonderful, and Pepsico.

Jason Okabayashi

Jason Okabayashi

The California Fresh Fruit Association has elected a new chairman and officers on its board of directors for 2021. Kevin Herman, The Specialty Crop Company, was tapped to be the new chairman; Wayde Kirschenman, Kirschenman Enterprises, was selected to serve as first vice chairman; Melissa Frank, Wonderful Orchards, was elected to second vice chair; and Louis Pandol, Pandol Bros., Inc., was tapped to serve as secretary and treasurer.

Weis Markets has elevated Greg Zeh to senior vice president and chief information officer. Zeh joined Weis Markets in 2016 as vice president and chief information officer.

Vintner Steven Spurrier died March 8 at age 79 at his home on the Bride Valley Vineyard in the United Kingdom. Spurrier was known for helping put Napa Valley on the map as a region for producing great tasting wine. After touring the Napa Valley wineries in the 1970s, he returned to France bringing back some California wine to conduct a friendly wine tasting. He gathered up some French judges, the best whites and reds in France and paired them up against the upstarts from Napa Valley. The results of the blind tasting had a California wine winning in every category. Accused of switching votes and cheating, the event would live on as the Judgment of Paris, kick starting the craze around California wine country.

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.

John Newton, Jeremy 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.

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.

Katherine Tai

Katherine Tai

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.

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.

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.

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