The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) executive committee has appointed current chief operating officer Greg Tyler as the council’s next president and chief executive officer. He succeeds Jim Sumner, who will be retiring from the position in June after 32 years leading the organization. Tyler has been with USAPEEC for 25 years, starting as director of foreign market development and Asian promotions before being promoted to vice president and senior vice president for marketing. He was named COO in July 2020.

Greg Tyler

Greg Tyler

Mayo Schmidt has left his position as president and CEO of Nutrien and has resigned from the Board. Ken Seitz, executive vice president and CEO of Potash, Nutrien Limited, has been named the company’s interim CEO. The Nutrien Board of Directors will work with an executive search firm to begin a global search to select its next CEO, considering both internal and external candidates.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., has announced he will retire. First elected to Congress in 1992, Rush, an ordained minister and former Black Panther, defeated then-state Sen. Barack Obama in the 2000 Democratic primary, the only Democrat to ever defeat the former president. Rush currently sits on the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee for Energy and Commerce. On the House Ag Committee, he sits on the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations; Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit; and Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. Rush is the 24th Democrat to announce his retirement from the House of Representatives.

The Biden administration has named a handful of appointees to oversee the Agriculture Department's farm and rural development programs at the state level. On Dec. 17, Biden made the following appointments: Arlissa Armstrong has been tapped to be Tennessee’s state Rural Development director; David Baker will serve as the RD state director for Delaware and Maryland; Kate Bolz was named Nebraska state RD director; Benancio Cano, Jr., was selected to serve as Texas’ Farm Service Agency’s state executive director; Betsy Dirksen Londrigan will serve as Illinois’ RD state director; Scott Halpin will become Illinois’ FSA state executive director; Sherry Hamel was tapped as Maine’s state FSA executive director; Brian Murray will become New York’s RD state director; and Doris Washington was appointed Arkansas’ FSA state executive director.

On Dec. 29, Biden made five more FSA and RD appointments. A veteran of the Obama administration and USDA, John Berge will serve as the Farm Service Agency state director for Nebraska. Former Kentucky state legislator Dean Schamore will serve as Kentucky’s state FSA director. Serving as Missouri’s state FSA director will be Joe Aull. Kathleen Williams will serve as the Rural Development director for Montana and Sarah Waring will be RD state director for Vermont and New Hampshire.

Osama El-Lissy

Osama El-Lissy

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has announced he will appoint Matt Lohr as the state’s next secretary of agriculture and forestry. He will also appoint Joseph Guthrie as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A fifth-generation farmer in the Shenandoah Valley, Lohr most recently served as chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service during the Trump admnistration. Guthrie currently serves as a senior instructor at Virginia Tech and has been teaching courses in business management, finance, communications, and leadership in the Agricultural Technology Program since 2007.

Osama El-Lissy has retired as deputy administrator of USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine program. El-Lissy has held USDA leadership roles for the past 22 years. In the interim, Mark Davidson, associate administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will act as deputy administrator.

Amanda De Jong is settling into her new role as head of government affairs and policy engagement at Pivot Bio. De Jong previously worked for Landus as a business unit leader and also previously served as Iowa state executive director of the Farm Service Agency.  

Katie Culleton has joined the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association as the legislative affairs director. Culleton previously worked for Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., as his senior policy adviser. 

Monica Spaller has accepted a new job as executive director of corporate responsibility operations at JP Morgan Chase. Spaller most recently ran her own public affairs consulting business, Shelby Spaller Consulting, and recently co-led the PAC Pals Agribusiness sector.

Katie Grant Drew has left Capitol Hill, where she served as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s communications director and senior adviser for the past 16 years. Hoyer’s press secretary, Margaret Mulkerrin, has been promoted to communications director. Mulkerrin joined Hoyer’s staff in 2017 as his press assistant and deputy press secretary. She spent a year in Rep. Antonio Delgado’s, D-N.Y., office as his communications director and later rejoined Hoyer’s staff in February 2021 as his press secretary.

Amanda De Jong

Amanda De Jong

Sydney Pettit has left the office of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., where she served as a legislative assistant. She now serves as the government affairs director for CTIA-The Wireless Association.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has named Ma’raj Sheikh as the organization's new grassroots director. Sheikh joins NSAC after serving as systems and strategy manager at the Chicago Food Policy Action Council. She was a National Science Foundation Fellow and moved to Iowa from Southern California to learn about industrial agriculture at Iowa State University. There, she studied sustainable agriculture and community and regional planning. Madeline Turner is also NSAC's new grassroots fellow. Turner is the co-author of The Land of Milk and Money: Lessons Learned and Business Earned from Women in Dairy and is currently working on a writing project focused on the relationships between cultural trauma and landscape transformation.

The U.S. Apple Association has hired Mitchell Liwanag as the new manager of association services. Liwanag comes to USApple from the National Communication Association, where he managed day-to-day office and building operations and assisted with membership management. Before that, Liwanag worked for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture as a policy intern.

Mark Hussey, currently president at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has been tapped as the acting vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M. Current vice chancellor and dean Patrick Stover announced that he would not seek reappointment at the end of this year, so he may focus on standing up the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture and provide oversight for the Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Evidence Center. Before becoming president of Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2019, Hussey served in multiple leadership roles within the Texas A&M University System, including vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences, interim president at Texas A&M University, director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and department head for soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University.

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program elected Charles Ray Huddleston of Celina, Texas, as the 2022 chairman. Newly elected officers and board members include: Adam Schindler, vice chairman, South Dakota; Jeffry Zortman, treasurer, Kansas; Kendall Hodgson, secretary, Kansas; Macey Mueller, Kansas Member; Kimberly Baldwin, Kansas Member; and Kevin Pshigoda, Texas Member.

The International Poultry Council has added new and reelected members to its executive committee for 2022. Gonzalo Moreno has been newly elected to the board and Birthe Steenberg returns to the committee, both as country member representatives. Marilia Rangel Campos Martin was reelected as the associate member representative. Yu Lu and Sergey Lakhtyukhov were also invited to join the executive committee as appointed members.

Green Plains Inc. has announced the appointment of three executives to its leadership team: Chris Osowski joins as executive vice president of operations and technology, Jim Stark joins as executive vice president and Anand Sundaresan as senior vice president. Osowski spent nearly a decade with ADM, most recently serving as vice president for global technology. Before joining ADM, Osowski held various roles at POET, Renewable Energy Group and Tate & Lyle. Stark most recently served as vice president of investor relations at Darling Ingredients. Before that, he led investor relations at Green Plains for over 10 years. Sundaresan was most recently vice president of human health and nutrition, Asia Pacific with Royal DSM. Before that, he held a number of roles at The Dow Chemical Company.

The Washington Apple Commission reappointed five members to its Board of Directors. Reelected for three-year terms are: Dave Robison, grower, District 1; Michael Roche, grower, District 2; West Mathison, grower, District 3; Jorge Sanchez, dealer, District 1; and Miles Kohl, dealer, District 2.

Missouri Farm Bureau has hired Dan Engemann to serve as its new director of regulatory affairs. Engemann has worked the last five years in the Missouri Senate, most recently as chief of staff to State Sen. Karla Eslinger and District Director for Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz. Engemann currently serves as an agriculture representative on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee, a 70-member federal panel advising the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service on the operation of the Missouri River Recovery Program. Engemann succeeds Leslie Holloway, who retired Dec. 31 after 26 years of service to Missouri Farm Bureau.

Founding co-chair of Solutions from the Land, Tom Lovejoy, passed away Dec. 25. Known as a conservation biologist and one of the world’s experts of the Amazon Basin, Lovejoy was a passionate advocate for how humans and nature must find a sustainable way to live and thrive. He was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.

Sarah Weddington, who was USDA’s general counsel under former President Jimmy Carter in 1977-78, died December 26 at her home in Austin, Texas. She was 76. She had been in declining health but the cause of death was not disclosed. Weddington was famous for having successfully argued the Roe v. Wade abortion case before the Supreme Court in 1971 when she was just 26 years old. At age 32, she was the youngest ever to serve as top legal officer of a cabinet-level department. Her brief tenure at USDA was marked by the implementation of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, for which she went by horseback into the Big Bear Wilderness area of Montana to observe the application of the laws pertinent to remote areas, she said in an oral history. After a year at USDA, Carter appointed her a special assistant to the president.

Sarah Tyree passed away Dec. 30 after a long battle with brain cancer. She was 54. Most recently, Tyree served as vice president for policy and public affairs at CoBank, where she worked for 15 years. She focused on local food, urban agriculture, telehealth, water systems and rural broadband. She also championed many of CoBank’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. She began her career on Capitol Hill and then managed agricultural issues for the Biotechnology Industry (now "Innovation") Organization before moving to Missouri to work for the state Department of Agriculture. In this position, she directed the creation of the Missouri Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and managed the Missouri Phase II Tobacco Settlement. She then served as vice president at AgriLogic in Washington, D.C. Tyree also was a longtime member of the board of directors for DC Central Kitchen and served as chairwoman for six years.

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