Torres Small Rural Lenders.jpgXochitl Torres Small, USDA

Xochitl Torres Small is President Joe Biden’s pick as the next deputy secretary at USDA. She would replace Jewel Bronaugh, who is stepping down from the position. Torres Small, a lawyer and former congresswoman from New Mexico, has been serving as USDA’s undersecretary for rural development since she was confirmed by the Senate in October 2021. 

A 30-year veteran of the Food and Drug Administration, Tracey Forfa, will become the new director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. She has been CVM’s acting director since December, when previous director Steven Solomon retired. She will be the first non-veterinarian in the role.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has announced the organization of its subcommittees for the new Congress. Ranking Republican John Boozman of Arkansas told reporters that the subcommittees will play a larger role in conducting oversight hearings during this Congress. Read more about the subcommittees here. 

The House Agriculture Committee also released the roster of its six newly reorganized subcommittees for the new Congress. The subcommittees that will be responsible for conservation programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program respectively will have an equal number of Republican and Democratic members. Read more about the subcommittees here.

Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has added professional staff to the committee as conversations around the upcoming farm bill gear up. Eyang Garrison now serves as the deputy staff director of the committee. She previously was chief of staff to Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh.

Mikayla Bodey has added senior to her title as professional staff. She has been with the committee for two years and covers the portfolio for rural development, broadband, biofuels, energy and appropriations issues.

Claire Borzner has been promoted to senior professional staff for the committee. She has been with the committee for three years, previously serving as a professional staff member. She handles the portfolio for nutrition, food aid, and global food security issues. 

Brandon Honeycutt is settling into his new role as senior professional staff. He handles the portfolio for research, specialty crops, organics, food safety, hemp, and local foods.

Chu-Yuan Hwang has been tapped as the new chief counsel. Hwang previously served as the deputy chief counsel and before joining the Senate Ag Committee worked on the House Agriculture Committee in the same role. She was also an attorney at both the Department of Agriculture and at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Khadija Jahfiya has been moved to professional staff covering local foods, food waste, urban agriculture, underserved farmers and nutrition issues. She has been on the committee for three years and previously was a policy analyst. 

Courtney Knight is a policy analyst for the committee, covering the portfolio for conservation, forestry, climate, environmental regulations and pesticide issues. She previously worked at Pioneer Public Affairs and in campaign finance with the Senate Majority PAC.

Cole McEldowney now serves as Chairwoman Stabenow’s executive assistant. He previously was the committee’s staff assistant. 

Chris Neubert has been added to the committee as a professional staff member and budget analyst handling the portfolio for rural development, energy and budget issues. He previously worked on the Senate Budget Committee as a policy adviser focusing on agriculture and nutrition-related issues. 

Brandon Pachman is a new staff assistant for the committee. He previously worked in the office of retired Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Jay Tilton has joined the committee as press secretary. He has worked in the Senate for 10 years, most recently as the press secretary for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Kyle Varner has been elevated to senior professional staff for the committee and will handle the portfolio for commodities, crop insurance, credit, trade, dairy, livestock, animal health and animal welfare issues.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture welcomed eight new members to its organization at its 2023 Winter Policy Conference. Two states elected new commissioners of agriculture, and six governors made new appointments. Newly elected include Florida Commissioner Wilton Simpson and Georgia Commissioner Tyler Harper. Newly appointed state ag officials include Chairperson Sharon Hurd of Hawaii, Director Chanel Tewalt of Idaho, Secretary Kevin Atticks of Maryland, Director Sherry Vinton of Nebraska, Director J.J. Goicoechea of Nevada, and Director Brian Baldridge of Ohio.

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FMI-The Food Industry Association has promoted Steve Markenson to vice president of research and insights and Kelli Windsor to senior director of digital communications. In 2022, Markenson oversaw more than 40 research and insights projects as a research director. Windsor previously was the director of digital communications. 

Kelli Windsor.jpegKelli Windsor, FMIRabo AgriFinance has named Chris Olson as the new head of rural, U.S., effective March 1. Olson has been with the organization since 1998 and most recently was the general manager of the central territory.

Co-Founder of the Farmers Business Network, Amol Deshpande, has announced he is stepping down as CEO to pursue other interests. John Vaske has been tapped to succeed Deshpande as CEO, effective April 15. He has served on FBN’s board of directors since 2017.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has promoted Sigrid Johannes to director of government affairs and director of the Public Lands Council. She will continue working on the natural resources, endangered species, and grazing portfolio in addition to her new responsibilities. NCBA also hired Kelsea Forward as an associate director of government affairs. She comes to NCBA from the American Farm Bureau Federation, where she was a communications assistant.

Jord BioScience has selected Keri Carstens to be its new chief executive officer. Carsten previously led global regulatory strategy at Corteva Agriscience. 

Today is the last day for Drew Felz, government affairs representative at General Mills. Next week, he’ll be joining the LEGO Group as its Director of Government and Public Affairs, based in Washington, DC

The Missouri Beef Industry Council has brought on Erica Graessle-Loethen as the new manager of communications and marketing. Most recently she was the development coordinator at the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

USDA has appointed 23 members and alternates to serve on the 28-member board of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. The newly appointed members are Doug LaCroix, California producer; Brittany Lee, Florida producer; Tiffany Crosby, Georgia producer; Dennis Vander Kooi, Michigan producer; Jimmy Horrell, North Carolina producer; Ryan Lockman, importer; Joe Barsi, importer; Mark Adams, exporter; Daniel Bustamante, exporter; and Jose Luis Bustamante, exporter. 

Newly appointed alternates include Bill Steed, California producer; Michael Hill, Florida producer; Tammy Brannen, Georgia producer; George Fritz Jr., Michigan producer; Chelsea Consalo, New Jersey producer; Kristen Johnson-Brinkley, North Carolina producer; Ellie Norris, Oregon producer; Leif Olsen, Washington producer; Andrew Maiman, importer; Bo Slack, importer; Ray Biln, exporter; Jose Antonio Castro, exporter; and Jose Guillermo Romo, exporter.

USDA has appointed 32 members to serve on the National Potato Promotion Board. Newly appointed members include: Jim Corneille, Arizona; Trever Belnap, Idaho; Ben Josephson, Idaho; Kamren Koompin, Idaho; Ryan Moss, Idaho; David Mundt, Idaho; Andrew Lee Porath, Idaho; Justin Searle, Idaho; Jennifer Gogan, Maine; Jeff Irving, Maine; Eric Makarewicz, Michigan; Sander Dagen, Minnesota; David Fedje, North Dakota; Casey Folson, Minnesota; Tom Nilson, North Dakota; Troy C. Sorensen, Nebraska; Jess Blatchford, Oregon; Dave Masser, Pennsylvania; Steve F. Barrett, Texas; Rhonda Kleyn, Washington; Juan F. Martinez, Washington; Blake Underwood, Washington; Levi Underwood, Washington; Jake Wardenaar, Washington; Dennis Wright, Washington; Michael Carter, Wisconsin; Charlie Husnick, Wisconsin; Josh Knights, Wisconsin; Kevin Schleicher, Wisconsin; John D. Schroeder, Wisconsin; Aron Derbidge, importer member; and Kathy DeVries-Ruehs, importer member.

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