Rep. Glenn ThompsonRep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., has been selected by the House Republican Steering Committee to chair the House Agriculture Committee, starting in 2023, when Congress is due to write a new farm bill.

The Department of Agriculture has made new senior staff changes. Katie Zenk has been promoted to deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. She previously served as the chief of staff for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory mission area. Before joining USDA, she worked on the House Agriculture Committee for then-Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn, and served in several roles with Land O’Lakes.

Sanah Baig now serves as USDA's deputy undersecretary for research, education, and economics. She previously served as the chief of staff for USDA’s REE mission area.

Lanon Baccam is the new senior adviser in the Office of Communications. Baccam most recently was the director of scheduling and advance. Before USDA, he was the deputy state director for Iowa during the Biden-Harris general election campaign. Juan Bautista Dominguez has been elevated to deputy director of advance in the Office of Communications. He previously served as the advance lead.

Tien Nguyen has been promoted to director of scheduling and advance in the Office of the Secretary. He previously served in the deputy role. Lauren Atzenbeck has been promoted to deputy director of scheduling in the Office of the Secretary. Atzenbeck has held positions as the scheduler and as the special adviser to the chief of staff. Before that, she worked for the Biden-Harris Coordinated Campaign in Colorado.

Steffanie Bezruki is now the chief of staff for the undersecretary of rural development. She was previously the chief of staff for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, a role that Jimmy Dahman has been selected to fill. He was previously the special assistant to the undersecretary of rural development.

Jason Grumet has been tapped as the new chief executive officer of the American Clean Power Association, effective Jan. 23. Grumet founded the Bipartisan Policy Center in 2007. In 2001 he founded and directed the National Commission on Energy Policy.

Kai Bockmann has been selected as the new president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers, effective Jan. 17. Bockmann has served the last 10 years at the executive level of Saputo, a Canadian dairy company. He succeeds Mark Jansen, who will step down from the role after a 12-year tenure.

Jacqueline Muhammad.jpgJacqueline Muhammad, Torrey Advisory Group

The American Soybean Association has brought on Melanie Fitzpatrick as the new executive director of state and industry relations, effective Jan. 3. Fitzpatrick most recently was vice president of The Center for Food Integrity and Look East Public Relations. She will succeed Bill Schuermann, who retired this month after 15 years in the role.

Jacqueline Muhammad has been added to the policy team of Torrey Advisory Group as director of government affairs. Muhammad previously worked at the Illinois Corn Growers Association as the biofuels and public policy program manager.

The North American Renderers Association has named Charles Starkey vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. Starkey will also be the director of research for the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation. Most recently, Starkey was an assistant professor at Auburn University’s Poultry Science Department.

Erin Ball has been promoted to lead the Grain Foods Foundation as the new executive director. Ball had been serving as the acting executive director since January and before that was the director of public relations and science.

Payne Griffin is the incoming chief of staff to Rep.-elect Dale Strong, R-Ala. Griffin previously served as the deputy legislative director to Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., overseeing the senator’s work on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Before that, he was a legislative assistant working on the portfolio of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, and international trade.

Strong has also hired Dylan Smith to be his new district director. Smith previously was the editor of Yellowhammer News, a local Alabama news outlet.

Steve Johnson is returning to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as associate director of policy communications. He most recently worked for the Office of Spokane County Board of Commissioners in Washington state.

Jamaica Gayle has joined the Corn Refiners Association as the new senior manager of sustainability. Gayle was previously the executive director of the National Foreign Trade Council’s Global Innovation Forum.

Jamaica Gayle Headshot.jpgJamaica Gayle, Corn Refiners Association

Hannah Quigley is the new policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She previously worked as a food access specialist at the Richmond City Health District.

Jordan Evich has joined Monument Advocacy to lead the firm's appropriations practice. He previously worked on Capitol Hill as the deputy chief of staff to Rep. Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.

Bion Environmental Technologies has brought on Lily Edwards-Callaway to its advisory group. She has also been working with Bion as a consultant overseeing the development and implementation of the animal health and welfare program for the company’s sustainable beef projects. Edwards-Callaway is an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University focusing on livestock behavior and welfare.

Kaytlin Gilbert has been named the outreach coordinator for the government relations department for the Illinois Soybean Association. Gilbert most recently worked for Physicians for a National Health Program as a national organizer. 

Garrett Hawkins has been reelected to a second term as president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. Hawkins is a livestock farmer from St. Clair County, Mo. Reelected to the board are Jason Kurtz representing district 1, Drew Lock representing district 2, Andy Clay for district 3, and Sharon Arnold for district 4. Amy Jo Estes was reelected to serve as the South board member at-large and Andrew Boerding has been appointed as the new Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee chairman and board advisory member.

Missouri’s Meagan Kaiser has been tapped to lead the United Soybean Board as the new chair. Serving alongside Kaiser on the executive committee are Ohio’s Steve Reinhard as vice chair, Nebraska’s Ed Lammers as secretary, and Mississippi’s Philip Good as treasurer. Newly elected members of the executive committee include Matt Gast, North Dakota; April Hemmes, Iowa; Gary Berg, Illinois; Brent Gatton, Kentucky; Belinda Burrier, Maryland, and Laurie Isley, Michigan.

Daryl Cates has been elected as the new president of the American Soybean Association. He was previously ASA’s vice president and is a fourth-generation Illinois farmer. Immediate past president Brad Doyle has moved to the role of chairman. Former chairman Kevin Scott will rotate off the nine-member executive committee and retire from the board. Josh Gackle has been selected to serve as the new vice president, Caleb Ragland will be the next secretary and Scott Metzger will serve as treasurer. Dave Walton, Alan Meadows, Ronnie Russell, and Jered Hooker will serve as at-large members of the executive committee.

Jeff Peterson of Minnesota is the new president of the American Agricultural Law Association. Jake Parker of North Carolina has been voted in as the new president-elect and Marisa Bocci of Washington and Whitney Ivey of North Carolina will join the board as directors. Tyler Buswell will become the immediate past president. 

Pete Donlon has been selected as a new board member of the Equitable Foods Initiative. He fills the seat vacated by Vic Smith of JV Smith Co. Donlon is the vice president of Misionero. Before that, Donlon spent 26 years at Earthbound Farm.

Josie Wagler has moved back to her home state of Iowa to be the legislative liaison at the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Wagler previously worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, as his director of operations and scheduling. She also previously worked at the International Dairy Foods Association as an executive assistant.

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