Brian Sikes has been tapped to lead Cargill as its new president and chief executive officer at the beginning of the year. Sikes will replace Dave MacLennan, who will become the executive chair of the board. Sikes has been with the company for 31 years and currently serves as Cargill’s chief operating officer. He has held various leadership roles in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and has previously served as the head of the company’s talent center of expertise.

Brian SikesBrian Sikes, Cargill

Dale Nellor now serves as the executive vice president of the National Water Resources Association. He comes to NWRA from the North American Millers’ Association, where he served as the vice president of government and technical affairs.

Krista Swanson has joined the National Corn Growers Association as the new lead economist, serving as the economic analyst resource for NCGA and its state affiliates. Swanson had been a research specialist for the Gardner Agricultural Policy Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Nebraska Gov.-elect Jim Pillen has appointed Sherry Vinton, a rancher from Whitman, Nebraska, to lead the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. She will take over for Steve Wellman, who served as director under former Gov. Pete Ricketts, and will become the first woman to lead the agency.

Scott Kurfman is now the director of global brand strategy and planning at Nutrien. He previously worked at YANMAR America as the senior marketing manager.

The Environmental Protection Agency has appointed 20 new members to the agency's Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. They will join 17 existing members of the committee to help provide policy advice, information, and recommendations on environmental issues important to agriculture and rural communities. Beth Sauerhaft from American Farmland Trust and new member Dr. Raymon Shange from Tuskegee University will lead FRRCC as committee chair and vice chair respectively. The new members are Brad Bray, Bray Farms; Eddie Crandell Sr., Lake County, California, supervisor; Jennifer James, J&J Land Co.  and Auvergne Grain Co.; Sarah Lucas, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; Jeanne Merrill, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Clay Pope, Pope Hilltop Farm and the National Association of Wheat Growers; James Pritchett, Colorado State University; Nithya Rajan, Texas A&M University; Lindsay Reames, Virginia and Maryland Milk Producers Cooperative Association; Jennifer Simmelink, Kansas Soil Health Alliance; Chantel Simpson, North Carolina A&T State University; and Ryan Smith, Danone North America.

Clean Fuels Alliance America has elected new governing board leaders and leadership. Mike Rath has been appointed to serve as chair, Rob Shaffer will be vice chair, and Gary Louis is going to be the second vice chair. Ryan Pederson is the board's new treasurer, Paul Teta was elected as secretary, and Kent Engelbrecht will assume the role of past chair. Newly elected to the board and serving a two-year term includes: Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board; Tim Keaveney, HERO BX; Courtney Lawrenson, Ag Processing Inc.; Gary Louis, Seaboard Energy; Tim Ostrem, South Dakota Soybean Checkoff; Mike Rath, Darling Ingredients; Rob Shaffer, American Soybean Association; and Paul Teta, Kolmar Americas Inc.

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Owen Roberts has been tapped as the new director of the agricultural communications program for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois—Champagne. Roberts joined the faculty in December 2020, and before that was a research communications director at the University of Guelph in Canada, where he taught agricultural communications and served as editor of the university’s research magazine. He is also an active journalist in print and online media and a monthly columnist for Prairie Farmer.

Owen RobertsOwen Roberts, University of Illinois-- Champagne

Nikki Deyle has been tapped as the new director of strategic engagement for the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council. Deyle owns and operates Stonehill Farms in Browerville, Minnesota. She most recently worked as an industry consultant for planning large-scale events, trade shows, and annual meetings, and previously worked at AgriGrowth from 2005-2008.

The National Fisheries Institute is mourning the loss of its president and CEO John Connelly, who passed away. Connelly was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, in March 2022. He served at the helm of NFI for nearly 20 years. NFI will have a celebration of life on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the Global Seafood Market Conference at the La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs, California. NFI will also announce funeral plans when they are made available.

Jon Knochenmus passed away on Nov. 19, at his home in Minnesota after fighting his battle with cancer. He was 67. He served as president emeritus of Ralco Agriculture, a nutrient conversion company.

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