Eric Steiner

Eric Steiner

Laura Batcha, the longtime leader of the Organic Trade Association, plans to step down in the spring of 2022. Batcha has been with OTA since 2008 and has been the organization’s executive director and CEO since 2014. OTA has hired consulting firm Korn Ferry to lead the search in finding her replacement.

The American Forest & Paper Association has tapped Eric Steiner to be the new vice president of government affairs, effective Nov. 1. Steiner joins AF&PA from Elanco Animal Health, where he served as senior director of government affairs. Prior to Elanco, Steiner worked for Kraft Foods, the Senate Ag Committee, USDA and the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Michael Torrey Associates has welcomed Julie McClure to its team as a director of government affairs. McClure most recently was the science policy manager with the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies where she advocated for food, agriculture, and natural resource research programs across federal agencies. She began her career as a science policy fellow at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Elisa Bayoumi has joined OFW Law as the new regulatory and legislative coordinator, and Lauren Goodacre has joined as a paralegal working on litigation matters and regulatory analysis for SNAP, health care, cannabis, FDA, and USDA issues. Bayoumi will focus on issues related to agriculture, forestry, food policy, and regulation. Before joining the firm, Bayoumi graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's in political science and a master's in international relations. Goodacre graduated with a Juris master's degree from Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and also has a bachelor's in forensic psychology from Florida Institute of Technology.

Carley Esser is moving over to the Senate Ag Committee on Oct. 27 to work as a professional staff member managing Title 1 commodity programs and crop insurance issues for Arkansas Republican John Boozman, the committee's ranking member. Esser previously worked for her hometown congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., as a senior legislative assistant covering the agriculture, energy, foreign trade, environmental protection, public lands and natural resources, and transportation portfolios. Esser has also worked for the U.S. Grains Council.

Carley Esser 

Carley Esser 

Jason Stverak has left the office of Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., where he served as deputy chief of staff for the past three years. Stverak now works as the deputy chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association.

Pluton Biosciences has appointed Steven Slater as the new CEO. Slater brings more than 30 years of experience in microbial genomics, biotechnology and business leadership. Slater previously worked for Terramera as vice president of strategic initiatives and has also worked for Monsanto.

The Department of Agriculture has announced the appointment of 13 new members to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). The new members will serve a two-year term and are as follows: Teshome Yehualaeshet, Tuskegee University; Yaohua (Betty) Feng, Purdue University; Bing Wang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Randy Worobo, Cornell University; Mahipal Kunduru, Topco Associates; Elisabetta Lambertini, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; Joelle Mosso, Eurofins; Max Teplitski, Produce Marketing Association; Joseph (Stan) Bailey, bioMérieux; Tanya Roberts, Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention; Janell Kause, USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service; Andreas Keller, HHS, Food and Drug Administration; and Lt. Col. Audrey McMillan-Cole, DVM, DoD, Defense Logistics Agency.

Julie Lagacy has been named Caterpillar’s first chief sustainability and strategy officer. Lagacy currently serves as Caterpillar’s vice president of the enterprise strategy division and will assume the additional responsibilities on Nov. 1.

Janna Spruill has joined the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Foundation as project manager for the USDA GAP cooperative agreement. Spruill spent the previous seven years working for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Food and Drug Protection Division.

Mollie Wilken has joined Green Plains Energy as senior communications and digital media specialist located in Omaha. Wilken has served as the public affairs and digital engagement strategist at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and was the GOP press secretary for the House Ag Committee from 2015-2019.

The Department of Agriculture has announced the appointment of four members to serve a three-year term on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program’s board of directors. The sorghum farmers appointed to the board are: Macey Mueller, Halstead, Kansas; Kimberly Baldwin, McPherson, Kansas; Kevin Pshigoda, Perryton, Texas; and Adam Schindler, Reliance, South Dakota.

Mollie Wilken

Mollie Wilken

C.W. (Bill) McMillan, a longtime lobbyist and consultant for the U.S. beef cattle industry and an Agriculture Department assistant secretary, died on Oct. 13 of heart failure. He was 95. Following U.S. Navy service in China and the Pacific, McMillan graduated from Colorado State University in 1948 and became a county agricultural extension agent. McMillan joined what then was known as the American National Cattlemen’s Association in Denver in 1959, serving as its executive vice president for 11 years and opening its Washington office in 1970. Former President Ronald Reagan nominated McMillan to be USDA’s assistant secretary for marketing and transportation services in January 1981. He resigned four years later to create a consulting service, largely specializing in food safety, animal and plant health and international trade in meat and poultry.

Arnold Mayer, a lobbyist for meat and poultry plant worker unions who worked on food issues for 34 years, has died of pneumonia at a suburban Washington nursing home. He was 91. When he retired in 1989, Mayer was vice president and director of public affairs at a predecessor of today's United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. In retirement, he lobbied for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a supporter of USDA's SNAP and school lunch programs.

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