The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Doug McKalip to be the Biden administration's chief ag trade administrator, Alexis Taylor to be USDA's undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and Jose Emilio Esteban to be USDA’s undersecretary for food safety.

Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., has been elected to serve as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. He previously chaired the committee for the past two years.

Alexis Taylor being sworn in.jpegAg Secretary Tom Vilsack and Alexis Taylor

Bruce Kettler is stepping down as director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to be the new CEO and president of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana. He will begin his new role on Friday. Kettler was first appointed as the ag director in 2018 by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Grant Menke has been picked as the next Iowa deputy secretary of agriculture, replacing Julie Kenney who has left the department. Menke most recently served as the vice president of market development at the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. He has also previously worked at USDA Rural Development. He begins his new role on Friday.

Smithfield’s chief operating officer, Brady Stewart, has left the company to take on a new role with Tyson Fresh Meats. Because of his departure, Smithfield has announced it will make changes to its senior management team.  

Gonzalo Gebara has been tapped as the new CEO of Walmart Canada, effective Jan. 30. Gebara joined Walmart in 2000, and has held roles across finance, strategy, e-commerce, marketing and operations. He most recently served as CEO of Walmart Chile. JP Suarez, executive vice president, chief administration officer and regional CEO for Walmart International, has led Walmart Canada on an interim basis for the past six months.

Nishant Roy is the new chief communications and impact officer for Chobani. He previously was the chief of strategic operations. Roy has worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development and served as an airman in the U.S. Air Force.

Dan Funk is the new CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers. He most recently was the chief operations officer for AWG. He succeeds David Smith, who retired at the end of the year. Smith joined AWG in 2003 and became president and CEO in 2015.

Michael Steffeck has been appointed CEO of HGS BioScience, a soil health innovation company. Steffeck was a co-founder of Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, has worked for J.R. Simplot and was an executive board member of CropLife America.

Michawn Rich is moving back to her home state of Nevada to be the policy director for new Gov. Joe Lombardo. Rich most recently served as the communications director for Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. Before that, Rich was the communications director at USDA for then-Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Michawn RichMichawn Rich, Office of Nevada Governor

Nick Lunneborg has been promoted to deputy chief of staff for Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn. He previously was the legislative director. Before that, he was a senior legislative assistant covering the agriculture portfolio for Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.

Kris Pittard now works on the Energy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as the Democratic policy coordinator. He previously worked in the personal office of Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., as his legislative director. 

John Altendorf has moved to the office of Rep. Brad Finstad, R-Minn., to serve as a legislative assistant covering the agriculture portfolio. Altendorf previously worked for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. 

Sarah Henry has taken on the new role of deputy district director for Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan. She previously served as his district agriculture representative, and before that she worked for the National Corn Growers Association.

David Manns is the new deputy chief of staff for Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark. He previously served as Crawford’s campaign manager.

Madelyn Derks has joined Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo., as an aide. She previously handled the agriculture portfolio as a legislative assistant for former Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.

Ashley Schapitl is headed to the Treasury Department to lead communications on the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. She previously spent the last nine years in the Senate working for Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.

Liz Jacobson has been promoted to legislative assistant, in the office of Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif. She has been with Panetta’s office since 2021, and before that interned with the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Caitlin Balagula has left the Democratic staff of the House Agriculture Committee, where she worked as a legislative assistant covering the nutrition title and also served as an assistant clerk.

Ashley Higgins has left the Congressional Western Caucus where she was a policy adviser for Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. Liz Daniels has also left the Congressional Western Caucus where she served as the communications director. Daniels is joining the staff at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

William Palmer has left the office of Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala. He worked on portfolios for trade and international finance, commerce, small business, and taxation.

Lucas Fuess has been named the new senior dairy analyst for RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness North America. He previously served as the director of dairy market intelligence at HighGround Dairy.

Tim Hamilton has left the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA and Food Export USA- Northeast where he served as the executive director and CEO. He plans to enjoy some time off before pursuing a new opportunity. Brendan Wilson will succeed Hamilton. He has been with the organization for the last nine years, most recently as the international marketing program manager.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and Land Assistance Fund has promoted Ebony Woodruff to land retention attorney. She previously served as a legal fellow.

Jason Henderson has been appointed vice president of Iowa State University's Extension and Outreach programs. He currently serves as director of extension and senior associate dean for faculty development in the Purdue University College of Agriculture, as well as assistant vice provost for engagement. He will join Iowa State on April 3 and succeeds John Lawrence, who announced his plans to retire.

Purdue University has announced new leadership roles. Patrick Wolfe now serves as Purdue’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity and Alyssa Wilcox is the new senior vice president for partnerships and the president’s chief of staff. Effective Jan. 9, Theresa Mayer will step down as executive vice president for research and partnerships and take on the new role as the university’s chief science officer. Karen Plaut, dean of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, has been tapped to serve as the university's new executive vice president for research. She first came to the university in 2010 as the associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture. She later became interim dean in 2017 and then permanent dean of the college in 2018. In her new role, she will oversee Purdue’s $600 million research enterprise. Purdue agricultural economics professor Ken Foster has been named interim dean of the College of Agriculture, beginning Jan. 9. 

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The Council of Producers and Distributors of AgroTechnology has retained Jay Vroom as a strategic adviser to help with membership and growth. Vroom brings 45 years of experience to the post, previously working for CropLife America, The Fertilizer Institute, National Fertilizer Solutions Association, now known as the Ag Retailers Association, and the Merchants Exchange of St. Louis.

The Soy Transportation Coalition has elected new officers to lead the organization in 2023. Elected as chairman is Chris Brossart of North Dakota. He currently serves as the chairman of the North Dakota Soybean Council. Selected to serve as vice chairman was Tim Gottman of Missouri and Mike Koehne of Indiana is the new secretary-treasurer.   

Wisconsin native Kevin Malchine has been tapped to serve as the new chairman of the board of directors for GROWMARK. Malchine has served on the GROWMARK board since 2012 and previously served as a vice chair. He succeeds John Reifsteck, who retired as chairman in November after serving 10 years in the role. Jason Lay and Dennis Neuhaus of Illinois were elected as vice chairmen, and Kevin Herink of Iowa was retained as secretary.

USDA has appointed new members to serve on the USDA/1890 Task Force. USDA members serving on the task force include: Terry Cosby, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (co-chair); Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Daniel Whitley, administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service; Monica Rainge, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; Dionne Toombs, acting director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Hubert Hamer, administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 1890 Land-Grant University presidents tapped to sit on the task force include: Paul Jones, Fort Valley State University (co-chair); Felicia Nave, Alcorn State University; Kent J. Smith, Langston University; Makola Abdullah, Virginia State University; Larry Robinson, Florida A&M University; and Jack Thomas, Central State University.

Ronald Green has announced he will retire as chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in June or until a new chancellor has been named. He has served in the role for the last seven years.

Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company Executive Vice President and State Manager Blaine Briggs has retired from the company after 36 years of service. Briggs has been in his current role since 2010.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has made new appointments to committee leadership. Serving a two-year term on the Promotion and Education Committee includes Heidi Cooper, Massachusetts; Julie Stephenson, Michigan; Nate Schlief, North Dakota; and Lynn Leahy, Wisconsin. Alan Clark, Idaho was reappointed for a two-year term. Serving a two-year term on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee includes: Kevin Lussier, Florida; Kaylee Heap, Illinois; Joe and Katelyn Packard, Michigan; Jason and Caitlin Keck, Minnesota; Andrew and Clarissa Cauthorn, Missouri; Sophia Lilly, North Carolina; Jonathan and Alyssa Zucker, Ohio; and Ben and Haily Sand, Wisconsin.

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