Basil Gooden has been confirmed by the Senate to be USDA’s next undersecretary for rural development. Gooden is a former state agriculture secretary and was USDA's Rural Development director in Virginia since 2021. Gooden’s nomination was cleared by voice vote following the Senate’s return to session after a two-week hiatus.

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Basil Ivanhoe Gooden and Summer Mersinger are sworn in before a Nov. 30, 2023 confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Summer Mersinger was also confirmed by voice vote in the Senate for another term as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Her time at CFTC is now set to expire April 13, 2028.

President Joe Biden has announced his intent to appoint National Farmers Union President Rob Larew to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. On this committee, Larew will help provide policy advice to the United States Trade Representative on matters related to the development, implementation, and administration of trade policy in the U.S. The president also intends to appoint eight others on the committee.

Alltech has moved Colm Moran into the new role of chief regulatory officer. He has been with the company for more than 20 years and most recently was the director of European regulatory affairs and also served as chairman of Alltech’s crisis management team.

Sean Arians has joined the National Corn Growers Association as its new vice president of sustainable production. Bringing 20 years of ag experience to the role, Arians previously worked at Advanced Agrilytics, Bayer, The Climate Corporation and Precision Planting.

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Karen Batra has been promoted to deputy vice president of public affairs at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). She previously was the managing director of communications.

Elizabeth Fusick.jpegElizabeth Fusick, American Sugar Alliance

Elizabeth Fusick has returned to the American Sugar Alliance as the director of communications. Fusick previously worked for ASA as a communications consultant.

Malin Westfall has joined The Mosaic Company as a sales director. He previously worked for ADAMA US as the head of commercial. He also spent time earlier in his career for BASF.

David Andrews has been tapped as the new executive director of the Iowa Farmers Union. He most recently did agricultural consulting work in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Tanzania and has managed large agricultural projects in Romania and the Philippines. Before that, he retired as the executive director of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin.

Pat O’Toole, farmer and longtime president of the Family Farm Alliance, died at the age of 75 after suffering a stroke. O’Toole and his wife, Sharon, owned and managed Wyoming’s Ladder Ranch. He was a strong believer that conservation and agriculture are mutually beneficial and was selected to serve on the Clinton administration’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, the only commissioner representing Western irrigated agriculture. O'Toole also served in the Wyoming House of Representatives and was a member of the Family Farm Alliance’s board of directors beginning in 1998. In 2005, he was named as the organization’s fifth president.

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