Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has appointed new members of the Farm Service Agency's state committee in California: Rodney Kamper of Riverdale, Nikiko Masumoto of Fowler, Joe Rascon of Kerman, and Chairman Ron Kelley of Sacramento. 

Helen Kurtz has joined Calavo Growers as the new senior vice president and general manager of Calavo Prepared, the prepared foods segment of the company. Kurtz brings 25 years of experience in the produce industry to the role, most recently serving as senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Foster Farms. Before that, she was with General Mills.

The California Avocado Commission has appointed Ken Melban as the commission’s interim president. He steps into the role following the retirement of Tom Bellamore earlier this year. Melban joined the commission in 2011 and previously served as the vice president of industry affairs. 

John Knappe is the new procurement manager of Bobalu Berry Farms, based out of the company’s Monterey, California, sales office.

USDA has promoted Brandon Chaderton to White House liaison in the Office of the Secretary. He had served as USDA’s deputy White House liaison since February 2021. Before that, he was the director of human resources for the 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee and was the human resources director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. 

USDA has also hired Samantha Joseph as the new senior adviser for faith-based initiatives in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Joseph previously served as the head of community outreach and vaccine equity at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston. Joseph also spent time on the campaigns of President Joe Biden, Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

Allison_Crittenden_AFBF_300.jpgAllison Crittenden, JBS

Tyson Foods has terminated the employment of Chris Langholz, who was the company’s international group president. Langholz joined Tyson in 2019 to lead its international business.

Mia Mulrennan has been named the chief people officer and a member of the International Dairy Foods Association’s executive team. Mulrennan spent the last decade as an organizational psychologist, consultant and executive focused on talent and human resources. In her career, she has served as the chief HR officer for Sun Country Airlines and the Star Restaurant Group.

Allison Crittenden has joined JBS as the senior director of government affairs. Her first day was Monday. She previously worked at the American Farm Bureau Federation as the director of government affairs.

Danielle Beck has left her post at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, where she was the senior executive director of government affairs. She'll start a new job in food and ag in September. 

House Ag Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., has promoted Victoria Maloch to communications director. Maloch joined the committee in 2021 as a legislative assistant and most recently served as the deputy communications director. Chairman Scott also brought on Donovan Tate-Davis as a press assistant and Elaine Zhang as a staff assistant. Tate-Davis previously was an intern for Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. Zhang most recently was a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow where she worked on American Indian agriculture and rural food systems.

Reana Kovalcik is no longer with the Organic Trade Association where she served as the director of public affairs. OTA has announced Maggie McNeil, former director of media relations for OTA, will be the association's interim contact.

U.S. Wheat Associates has hired Peter Laudeman as director of trade policy and Ralph Loos as director of communications. Laudeman had been political affairs manager for Corteva Agriscience, where he handled biotechnology issues and led the company’s carbon and ecosystem services advocacy. Laudeman previously was a legislative assistant with the National Corn Growers Association.

Loos has nearly 14 years of experience in agriculture communications, having worked at the U.S. Soybean Export Council, American Sheep Industry Association and U.S. Meat Export Federation. Andy Jarvis is set to join the Bezos Earth Fund as the director for the future of food. He announced the move on social media Monday. He comes to the fund from the Alliance of Biodiversity and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, where he was the associate director general. 

Syngenta Seeds has selected Linda Arnold Whaley as the new head of communications for its global and North American seed divisions. She replaces Amy Sarosiek, who has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. Before joining Syngenta in 2019, Whaley held roles with Monsanto, Bayer, and BASF. She most recently served as Syngenta’s head of marketing communications for North America. 

Brad Mitchell has also joined Syngenta as the Northeast region lead for state government affairs. Mitchell previously served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation.

Jenni Badding has been named as the new production and precision ag public relations manager, North America for John Deere. Badding joined the company in 2005 and most recently served as Deere’s digital technology go-to-market manager. She succeeds Chad Passman, who now serves as the company’s tactical marketing operations manager.

Ag law veteran Jan Kramer is the new general counsel for Versova, an egg company with operations in Iowa, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. Kramer was previously a legal adviser for the company for more than 15 years and also brings three decades of private practice experience.

Flagstone Foods has named Harry Overly as its new chief executive officer. Overly previously served as the president and chief executive officer for Sun-Maid Growers of California, Fresno, California. He was also the chief customer officer of TreeHouse Foods. His new job starts on Sept. 15.

Jenni-Badding-300.jpgJenni Badding, John Deere

The World Food Prize Foundation has promoted Mashal Husain to senior vice president of development, finance and operations. Husain has been with the organization for the last 14 years, first joining in 2008 as the director of development and finance. In 2014, she was selected to serve as the vice president of the foundation.

Brenda Briggs has been tapped to serve as the chair of the U.S. Apple Association’s board of directors. She previously served as the board’s vice chair. Briggs serves as the vice president of sales and marketing with Rice Fruit Co. She succeeds Chris Alpers, operations manager and grower with Redpath Orchards in Michigan. USApple’s new board officers include: Vice Chairman Steve Clement of Sage Fruit, Secretary Brett Baker of United Apple Sales, and Treasurer Craig Hinkle of Knouse Foods.

USDA has added 12 new people to a new Equity Commission Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development.

The produce industry is mourning the loss of Steve Taylor, who died Aug. 21. He was 67. Taylor was previously the CEO of Fresh Express and a co-founder of Organic Girl. In 1987, Taylor joined Fresh Express, then Fresh International, where he worked until his 2003 retirement. He then helped found Organic Girl in 2007.

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