Gardner Hatch has been selected as the new executive director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. He brings over 30 years of experience to the role, having worked previously in public relations and agriculture marketing. He most recently was the strategic marketing lead at Woodruff, an integrated marketing company specializing in agriculture. He has also previously worked for ag marketing firms, including Bader Rutter, G&S Business Communications, and Fleishman Hillard. He will begin his new role on June 4.

Gardner Hatch .jpgGardner Hatch, NAFB Executive Director

Jared Andrews has been named to supervise the Michigan State University Plant Pathology and Entomology Research Centers. He previously was the assistant farm manager at the MSU Horticulture Teaching and Research Center.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization has laid off 30 employees including senior leadership positions as part of a restructuring, the group said. Some of the departing staff include Chief Science Officer Cartier Esham, Chief Public Affairs and Marketing Officer Rich Masters and Chief Policy Officer John Murphy.

"As our priorities come into sharper focus and our organization evolves, we have made the difficult decision to re-align our teams and redefine roles, which includes exiting 30 people from our organization," the group's president and CEO, John Crowley, said in a statement. 

Joy Estevez is the new office manager and government affairs coordinator at Corteva Agriscience. She previously worked for Akkodis as the technical project manager for Google.

Perry Harlow is now the young leaders program coordinator for the Illinois Farm Bureau. He previously worked for Illinois State University as the program coordinator for conference services. Before that, he was the member and events manager for Torrey Advisory Group.

Elizabeth Kucinich is now a U.S. campaigns adviser for Compassion in World Farming (USA). She previously was a government affairs and partnerships adviser for Door to Freedom.

Patrick Fuchs has been confirmed by the Senate to a second term as a member of the Surface Transportation Board. He was re-nominated on Jan. 25, and his second term expires Jan. 14, 2029.

The American Feed Industry Association has installed Leigh Ann Sayen, chief executive officer of The Peterson Co., as its new chair of the board of directors and elected Dan Meagher, president and chief executive officer of Novus International Inc., as the chair-elect. The board also confirmed the appointments of the following individuals to serve three-year terms: Todd Armstrong, Ph.D., Phibro Animal Health Corp.; Eric Arnold, Bill Barr & Co. Inc.; Mariano Berdegue,  Cargill Animal Nutrition; Kristin Bonham, dsm-firmenich; Nicholas Braden, Wilbur-Ellis Pet Nutrition; Brent Brinegar, Lincoln Premium Poultry; Christi Brown, Zinpro Corporation; Katie Cook, Elanco Animal Health; Raj Kasula, Wenger Feeds LLC; Sean McNear, Blue Buffalo Co. Ltd; Terry Medemblik, Walinga USA; David Probert, International Ingredient Corp.; Chad Risley,  Berg +Schmidt America, LLC; Apoorva Shah, SAM Nutrition; and David Stephens, Seminole Feed.

Leigh Ann Sayen.jpegLeigh Ann Sayen, board chair of the American Feed Industry AssociationJeffrey Plagge and Kevin Riel have been added as the newest members of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp.’s (Farmer Mac) board of directors. They replace Dennis Brack and Everett Dobrinski on Farmer Mac’s board, both of whom chose not to stand for re-election.

Terry Stone is retiring from the agriculture industry after 40 years. He most recently was the global regulatory leader for biologicals for Corteva Agriscience. He has also held roles with Agrinos, Syngenta, The Scotts Co,, and Monsanto.

Tamara Nelsen, executive director of the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council, has announced she is retiring in June. Nelsen has been AgriGrowth’s executive director since February 2019. Her successor, Darin Broton, begins June 10.

Jack Bobo is the recipient of the 2024 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. Bobo is the director of the University of Nottingham's Food Systems Institute. He will receive the award during the 2024 World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, in October.

                Cut through the clutter! We deliver the news you need to stay informed about farm, food and rural issues. Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse here.

Patrick Gottsch, who built cable channel RFD-TV from a single part-time satellite-broadcast outlet into a 24-hour nationwide rural favorite, died May 18 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 70. The announcement did not disclose the cause of death. Gottsch founded Rural Media Group Inc., parent company to RFD-TV, as well as The Cowboy Channel, The Cowgirl Channel, and the Sirius-XM Rural Radio 147. He was a native of Elkhorn, Nebraska, where his family had an extensive cattle feeding operation. A one-time trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, he began his broadcasting career in 1991 with Superior Livestock Auction.

Dan Smalley, Farm Foundation honorary life fellow, died May 13. He was 75. He owned Red Hill Farms, a 400-acre poultry farm in Alabama, and worked in the poultry industry for 39 years. He served as a Farm Foundation board chairman in 1998 and as a trustee from 1991 to 2001.

Larry Mitchell, administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration and associate director of its Office of Advocacy and Outreach during the Obama Administration, died last weekend. He was 68. Mitchell had been a leader of the American Agriculture Movement during the 1970s and later vice president of the National Farmers Union. He operated a consulting business in Washington for several years. Since 2017, he had been grain warehouse and aquaculture coordinator for the Texas Department of Agriculture in Austin. 

For more news, go to