Basil Gooden, a former Virginia agriculture secretary who has been directing state operations for USDA Rural Development for the past two years, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be the department’s new undersecretary for rural development. If confirmed by the Senate, Gooden would replace Xochitl Torres Small, who became deputy agriculture secretary in July.

David Grahn has returned to the Farm Credit Administration as the new general counsel and director of FCA’s Office of the General Counsel. He spent 30 years of service at the Department of Agriculture where he worked in the International Affairs, Food Assistance, Farm and Rural Programs Division of the Office of General Counsel. 

Anna M. Gomez.jpgAnna Gomez, Incoming FCC Commissioner

The Senate confirmed Anna Gomez 55-43 to serve as the fifth member of the Federal Communications Commission. President Biden nominated Gomez on May 30. A telecom lawyer, she most recently served as a communications policy adviser at the State Department. 

Gregg Doud has joined the National Milk Producers Federation as its chief operating officer. He will serve in this position until January when he will replace Jim Mulhern as the president and CEO.

NMPF also announced a staff reorganization under the new leadership. Paul Bleiberg will serve as executive vice president of government relations. Shawna Morris is the new executive vice president of trade policy and global affairs, and Alan Bjerga has been tapped as the executive vice president of communications and industry relations. Other promotions include: David West to chief administrative officer; Stephen Cain to senior director of economic research and analysis; Beverly Hampton Phifer to senior director of FARM animal care; Theresa Sweeney-Murphy as senior director of communications and outreach; Miquela Hanselman to director of regulatory affairs; and Tony Rice to director of trade policy. Staffers receiving title changes in line with new responsibilities are Chris Galen, who will serve as senior vice president of member services and governance, and Claudia Larson, senior director of government relations and head of nutrition policy.

Eyang Garrison has been tapped as the new Democratic staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee. She will succeed Erica Chabot, who has been in the role since July 2022 and plans to transition off Capitol Hill later this month. Garrison has served as the deputy staff director since March and previously worked at USDA.

Bethany Shively will be the new global media relations leader for Corteva Agriscience, located in Washington.  She previously worked at the American Seed Trade Association.

Ariel Wiegard has joined Pheasants Forever as the new vice president of government affairs. She previously worked at the American Soybean Association as the director of government affairs.

Jessica Morse is the new director of meetings and events at the American Feed Industry Association. Morse previously owned and operated Lucy Berry Bakeshop and served as an event manager for the Distilled Spirits Council and the Society of Wine Educators.

Bethany Shively.jpgBethany Shively, Corteva Agriscience

Brandon Barnett has taken a job in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service as an agricultural scientific analyst. He most recently worked at the International Fresh Produce Association as the government relations manager. Before that, he was with the Torrey Advisory Group.

Denise Webster has joined SCS Global Services, a sustainability standards development and third-party certification service, in the food and agriculture team. She will serve as the vice president of food safety. Bringing 25 years of experience to the role, Webster spent the last eight years as the owner and principal scientist of Food Brand Protection.

Don't miss a beat! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in agriculture in Washington, D.C. and around the country, click here.

Nicole Barreca Prenger has rejoined the World Food Prize Foundation staff as the senior director of strategic communications. Prenger previously worked for the foundation from 2012-2022, serving in a variety of roles focusing on the Foundation’s global brand and communications efforts.

Taylor Williamson is now the director of policy and regulatory affairs at Kansas Corn. He previously worked at the National Association of Wheat Growers as a government relations representative.

Catie Geib has joined the Conservation Technology Information Center as a soil health specialist in Wisconsin. Geib previously served as the My Wisconsin Woods Coordinator at the Aldo Leopold Foundation. In this position, she collaborated with Wisconsin landowners to help develop sustainable land management practices on forested properties. She is a northern California native and holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a concentration in soil science from Montana State University. 

Tim Niedecken is the new CEO of the American Livestock Markets and Dealers Association. He previously was the vice president of marketing at Heritage Land Bank.

Floyd Vergara has announced he will retire from Clean Fuels Alliance America at the end of the month. He serves as the director of state governmental affairs, managing the West Coast office in Sacramento, California, and leads the team responsible for government affairs in all 50 states. Jeff Earl, director of state regulatory affairs, has been tapped to succeed Vergara upon his retirement. Earl will be based at Clean Fuels' headquarters in Jefferson City, Missouri

Thierry Perrotin has joined Nedap as vice president for dairy, North America, and Emily Rolli has joined as a technical experience manager. Perrotin most recently worked for HydroGreen Inc., as vice president of business development and general manager. He has over 20 years of experience with DeLaval in various leadership roles. Most recently, Rolli served as herd management and technical specialist for Brand Dairies.

Farm Foundation Round Table Fellow Stephen Irsik Jr., passed away Sept. 6 at 76 after a battle with cancer. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Irsik returned to his farming roots after the war and was actively involved in many agriculture committees and organizations including chairing the Kansas Water Authority, Royal Farms Dairy, and Irsik Farms. He became a Round Table Fellow in 2010 and served as a cultivator mentor in 2019 and 2021.

For more news, go to