CMI Orchards has selected Brett Reasor as the new CEO of New Columbia Fruit Packers, effective Mar. 1. He succeeds Mike Wade, who will transition to the role of chairman. Reasor most recently was the CEO of Oneonta Trading Corporation. He also has experience as an industrial engineer for ConAgra Foods and was a general manager for Custom Apple Packers.

Ertharin Cousin.jpegErtharin Cousin, USDA Equity Commission

Food Systems for the Future President and CEO Ertharin Cousin will co-chair USDA’s Equity Commission. She takes the place of Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh who is leaving the department. Cousin will co-chair the commission alongside United Farm Workers President Emeritus Arturo Rodriguez. Dewayne Goldmon, senior adviser for racial justice and equity at USDA, has also been selected to join the commission as an ex officio member.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has made Christopher Wilson the assistant USTR for Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs. He most recently was the assistant USTR for South and Central Asia. Now, Brendan Lynch will serve as the acting assistant USTR for South and Central Asia.

Denise Bode has left Michael Best to start up a new firm called Constitution Partners. She is joined by Pat Firth and Emily Green, who were also at Michael Best. Firth joins the firm as a partner and Green as an associate. The new firm will be taking on clients in the agriculture, food, energy, environment, tax and trade industries. Bode joined Michael Best in 2017 and previously ran the firm’s federal lobbying practice. Firth previously was a principal and Green a legislative assistant. 

Charles Stephens has started a new role as senior executive director of policy at the National Rural Water Association. Stephens previously was the assistant administrator of water and environmental programs at USDA-Rural Development. 

The U.S. Apple Association has promoted Mitchell Liwanag to manager of environmental affairs. Liwanag came to USApple in January 2022 as the manager of association management. Before that, he worked at the National Communication Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

The USJersey organization has added three people to its staff. Benny Rector has been brought on as the new southern Plains area representative, which covers Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. He studied dairy science at the University of Missouri and then started Rector Jersey Farm in Mountain Grove, Mo., which he has run for nearly 20 years. Joining the team part-time are Jolena Gioiello and Gracie Krahn. Both positions will focus on the digital media platforms of the organization. Gioiello is an August 2022 graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in communications. She has been employed as a marketing assistant with InnTown Homes and Apartments, working with the company’s social media marketing. Krahn is a junior at the University of Wisconsin, studying life sciences communications and political science. She previously served as the 2019 National Jersey Queen.

The Food Research and Action Center has brought on Mayra Alvarez as the new chair of the board of directors. Alvarez is the president of The Children’s Partnership. She succeeds Judith Whittlesey, executive vice president of Susan Davis International, who served seven years in the FRAC role.

The Consortium for Common Food Names has named Jeff Schwager as the new chairman of the board. Schwager most recently served as CEO of Sartori from 2009-2022. He succeeds Errico Auricchio, who has led CCFN since its founding in 2012.

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New leaders have been selected to serve on the Dairy Management Inc., board of directors, which leads national dairy checkoff strategies and programs. Reelected as the chair of DMI is Marilyn Hershey, a farmer from Cochranville, Pennsylvania. Becky Levzow of Wisconsin has been tapped as the new vice chair, along with Skip Hardie of New York as secretary and Orville Miller of Kansas as treasurer. 

DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff, is co-funded by the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB) and the United Dairy Industry Association. They also each elected new board officers. Selected as chair of NDB is Joanna Shipp of Virginia. Doug Carroll of Iowa was selected as vice chair. Jim Reid of Michigan is the new secretary, and Suzanne Vold of Minnesota is the new treasurer. 

UDIA new officers include Neil Hoff of Texas as chair; Alex Peterson of Missouri as first vice chair; Tom Woods of Oklahoma and American Dairy Association representative, as second vice chair; Audrey Donahoe of New York and National Dairy Council representative as second vice chair; Charles Krause of Minnesota as secretary; and John Brubaker of Idaho as treasurer. 

Jose Aceves, a 54-year employee at Dutton Ranch, was the 2022 Sonoma County Vineyard Employee of the Year. Jose Guadalupe Nuñez, a 35-year employee at Bevill Vineyard Management, was the Employee of the Year Runner-up. The two awards were announced at the Fundación de la Voz de los Viñedos’ 5th annual Vineyard Employee Recognition Celebration. The awards recognize the accomplishments of vineyard employees who contribute to making Sonoma County a world-renowned wine region and sustainability leader. Aceves began working at Dutton Ranch in 1969. He has handled every job from tending to the vineyard, to driving tractors, to foreman and now supervisor. Guadalupe Nuñez has worked for Bevill since 1988. To read more about Aceves, Guadalupe Nuñez, and the 51 other vineyard employees honored, click here

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