Former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has been named the sole finalist for the position of chancellor of the University System of Georgia. A veterinarian and agribusiness owner, Perdue served as Georgia governor from 2003 to 2011 and Secretary of Agriculture from 2017-2021.

The Senate has confirmed Martha Williams by voice vote as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since January 2021, Williams has served as the principal deputy director of the agency. Before that, Williams was director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks from 2017 to 2020 and was an assistant professor of law at the Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana, and served two years as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife at the Interior Department.

Martha WilliamsMartha Williams Jessica Shade has accepted the position of national program leader for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Shade previously worked at The Organic Center  as the director of science programs. Amber Sciligo has been tapped to succeed Shade. Sciligo most recently served as the associate director of science programs at TOC. She has been with the organization since 2018.

The Department of Agriculture has announced the appointment of 33 individuals to serve on the National Potato Promotion Board. They will serve a three-year term from March 1 through Feb. 28, 2025. Individuals appointed to serve on the board are as follows: Ed Staunton, California; Les Alderete, Bevan Lenz, and Jason Tillman, Colorado; Kurtis Crapo, Tyson Funk, Taylor Grant, Eric Jensen, Jordan Johns, Braden R. Lake, Rick S. Miller, Adam Nielsen, and Jeff VanOrden, Idaho; Colin Szawlowski, Massachusetts; Alison Sklarczyk and Erwin J. Styma, Michigan; Peter A. Ewing and Jocelyn Schlichting, Minnesota; Martin H. Kimm, Montana; Leah Halverson, North Dakota; Nathan Bender, Nevada; Kory Hansen and Luke Robison, Oregon; Benjamin Zechmann, South Dakota; Matthew Linehan, Vermont; Jennifer Bunger, Daniel Gundersen, Andrew Hyer, Rod Schutte, Samueal Stahl and Marvin Wollman, Washington; Jon Gay, West Virginia; and Norbert Bomm, Illinois.

Gustavo Valle has been named executive vice-president, North America, for Mondelēz International, effective March 1. Valle brings over 30 years of experience in consumer goods to the position and previously served as the lead of the company’s Latin America business since January 2020. He replaces Glen Walter, who will leave the company to pursue another opportunity.

The American Egg Board has named Veronica Rovelli as vice president for outreach, experience and administration. Rovelli previously worked for the American Feed Industry Association, where she was senior director of meetings and events.

John WeberJohn WeberJohn Weber is leaving Capitol Hill and heading to Monument Advocacy as a principal. Weber previously worked as legislative director in Rep. Dusty Johnson’s, R-S.D., office. He helped cover the agriculture and food, energy, commerce, foreign trade, public lands, natural resources, telecommunications, environmental protection, science and technology portfolio.

Global Farmer Network Foundation has hired Elly Sukup and Gina Gutierrez. Sukup is the new director of programs. She is also the Food Security Technical Officer for Mercy Corps. Sukup previously managed the Clinton Foundation’s community nutrition program in Malawi and spent two years with the UN World Food Program in Ghana and Ethiopia. Gutierrez will serve as the community outreach advocate. She is a fifth-generation dairy farmer from the central region of Mexico. She started a Facebook page in 2015 advocating for the dairy industry and has grown her following to 60,000 followers. 

The BASF board of executive directors has made changes to the responsibilities of two board ressorts, which will take effect on March 1. Saori Dubourg (Ressort IV) will assume responsibility for the Monomers, Performance Materials, Petrochemicals and Intermediates divisions. She will also continue to be responsible for the Europe region. Michael Heinz (Ressort V) will assume responsibility for the Agricultural Solutions, Care Chemicals and Nutrition and Health divisions. He will continue to be responsible for the North America and South America regions. 

Paige Godden is the new communications director for Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa. She succeeds Ian Mariani who is headed to his home district congressman’s office to be Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.'s , new communications director.

Jim hagedorn.jpgRep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.

Gabrielle Blacker and Danna Sabolik have joined Ten Acre Marketing as account coordinators. Blacker most recently worked for the International Fresh Produce Association as a creative solutions coordinator and before that helped lead the merger of United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association as the two groups dissolved. Sabolik previously worked as a freelance agriculture journalist in Fargo.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., died Feb. 17 after a three-year battle with kidney cancer. He was 59. Hagedorn was first diagnosed in Feb. 2019, just six weeks into his tenure as a member of Congress. Hagedorn was elected to represent the 1st District in 2018 following the retirement of Tim Walz, a Democrat who decided to run for governor of the state. Hagedorn also worked on Capitol Hill and in the Treasury Department before his run for Congress. 

Longtime farm broadcaster Jerry Passer died Feb. 11. He was 79. Passer attended the Brown Institute of Broadcasting in Minnesota and shortly after graduation joined the Navy and served in the Vietnam War. He joined WMT Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and covered agriculture for 18 years. In 1991, Passer left WMT and started farm broadcasting at KOEL Radio in Oelwein, Iowa. He also worked for Brownfield Ag News, retiring from there in June 2017.

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