USDA has appointed Meryl Harrell as Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and Terry Cosby as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Harrell most recently served as the executive director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Cosby started his career with USDA in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. He most recently served as the acting chief of NRCS and was the state conservationist for Ohio. To read more on the appointments, check out previous coverage on

Terry Cosby

Terry Cosby

USDA has brought on Kim Peyser, Tien Nguyen, and Katie Zenk to its staff in senior staff leadership positions. Peyser has been named the new deputy assistant secretary for administration. She most recently served as the deputy chief of staff at the Department of Commerce. Nguyen will serve as the deputy director of scheduling and advance in the office of the secretary. She was most recently an advance associate in the executive office of the president. Previously, she served as the advance lead on the Biden-Harris transition team and was the national advance lead and studio producer on the Biden for President campaign. Zenk was hired to be chief of staff for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. She comes to USDA from Capitol Hill where she was the staff director of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, full Committee economist, and professional staff during consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill on the House Agriculture Committee.

Margaret Zeigler has been tapped to serve as the interim president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation after founding president Thomas Grumbly announced he will retire June 14. Grumbly will become chairman of the SoAR Board on the same date he retires. He has served as president of SoAR since 2014. Zeigler joins the SoAR team after serving as the executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative, which focuses on improving agricultural productivity around the world. To read more on Zeigler, see this article on

Nicole Negowetti has joined the Plant Based Foods Association as the new senior director of policy. Before joining PBFA, Negowetti served as a clinical instructor and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, where she worked at the Animal Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Law and Policy Clinic in the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. 

Daniel Vennard

Daniel Vennard

Claire Dailey has joined FLM Harvest as the new vice president of public relations. Dailey brings 15 years of communications and public relations experience to the position. She most recently worked at Periscope where she was a public relations account director. She succeeds Heidi Nelson, who recently transitioned from executive vice president to a member of the FLM Harvest board of advisers.

Nichino America (NAI) has promoted Jeffrey Johnson to chief executive officer in addition to his current position of president. Johnson has also been promoted to managing executive officer of Nihon Nohyaku Company, the parent company of NAI. Johnson joined Nichino Group in 1997 as the commercial development manager of Nihon Nohyaku America, predecessor company of NAI. He was named vice president of the newly formed NAI in 2001 and assumed the position of president in 2002. Dustin Simmons has been promoted to the newly created role of commercial vice president. Simmons joined NAI in 2008 and has held various positions within the company. Lastly, NAI has elevated Lydia Cox to vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for NAI. Cox joined NAI in 2013 as director of regulatory affairs. 

Glenn David has been tapped to be the executive vice president and group president of Zoetis. David previously was the executive vice president and chief financial officer. In his new role, David will oversee Zoetis' international operations, and will also be responsible for the company's aquaculture business, Global BioDevices, and Pumpkin Pet Insurance. Zoetis has also added Wetteny Joseph to succeed David as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Joseph comes to Zoetis after a 13-year career in the health care industry, working for Catalent, a global leader in pharmaceuticals, biologics and consumer health products.

Lorren Walker

Lorren Walker

Daniel Vennard, former global director at the World Resources Institute, will join the Syngenta Group as the new chief sustainability officer on July 26, based in Basel, Switzerland. Before joining the World Resources Institute, Vennard worked for 15 years at Mars Incorporated and Procter & Gamble in corporate strategy, sustainability and marketing. Petra Laux, who served as acting chief sustainability officer, will take on the role of head of business sustainability for Syngenta Crop Protection.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott has brought on Katherine Stewart and Detrick Manning to the majority staff. Stewart will serve as the Subcommittee Staff Director for the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee. She previously worked for Rep. Alma Adams’, D-N.C., office where she served as legislative director. Manning is the new press secretary for the committee. Manning most recently served as communications deputy for Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach, Calif.

Chairman Scott has also promoted Malikha Daniels as the subcommittee staff director for the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. Daniels previously served as a policy analyst on the committee.

Jeff Kuckuck has joined the staff of Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., as his new legislative director. Kuckuck covers the appropriations, small business, commerce, immigration and science and technology portfolio. Kuckuck previously served as a senior policy adviser for Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

Lorren Walker has started his own consulting firm, EliasWalker. Walker previously served as the chief of staff to Greg Ibach during his time as USDA undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs during the Trump administration. Walker brings 20 years of experience in the agriculture and consulting area.

Connor Hamburg will join Nutrien as the manager of government and industry affairs, effective June 1. Hamburg currently serves as the Renewable Fuels Association’s director of government affairs.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has hired Tandy Kidd as manager of events and member engagement and Maria Martinez as coordinator of programs and grants for the NASDA Foundation. Kidd most recently served as special project manager for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Martinez most recently served as a graduate teaching assistant for the University of Georgia and has experience working with Kansas Corn, Yum Brands Co. and the National FFA Organization.

Melissa Kessler

Melissa Kessler

Ivory Harris has been named senior vice president and chief human resources officer for AGCO. Harris joins AGCO after a 17-year career at BASF, where she most recently was vice president, People - U.S.

Melissa Kessler has been promoted to director of strategic initiatives and engagement for the U.S. Grains Council. Kessler previously served the council as director of strategic relations. In this new role, she will help the executive team, the council’s members and international offices to develop goals and help them implement them.

Yuan Longping, 2004 World Food Prize Laureate, passed away on May 22. He was 91. Longping was recognized as a World Food Prize laureate for his work in developing the research and technology that he used to breed the first hybrid rice varieties ever created. Known as the “Father of Hybrid Rice,” Longping helped transform China from food deficiency to greater food security. 

Steve Drake passed away surrounded by family on May 22 after a battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Drake received his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics and his Master of Arts degree in international journalism from Ohio State. The Ohio native started his career working for The Associated Press. He then served as the communications coordinator at Ohio State University and also served as director of public relations and sports information director at Albion College. Later in his career, he served as executive vice president of the American Soybean Association from 1978 to 1992 and was the president of Drake and Company from 1992 to 2011. He received the Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives and is a member of the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame.

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