Republican Rep. Vince Fong was sworn into office Monday to fill the seat of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Fong won a special election in May to represent California’s 20th congressional district, including parts of Fresno, Tulare, Kern and Kings counties in the Central Valley. The district accounts for 9% of California’s annual state agriculture sales and ranks 24th of all congressional districts in the value of agricultural products sold, according to 2022 Ag Census data published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service

AP_MAY_2024_VINCE_FONG_1.jpgRep. Vince Fong (CA-20) AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Derek Neilson, head of the agriculture division at Case New Holland Industrial, has left the company to "pursue entrepreneurial projects outside of the sector,” according to a news release. Neilson has been with CNH for more than 25 years in various roles. His successor has not been announced. 

Maria de Sagrario Iglesias of FirstFruits Farms has been named the inaugural Grow the Good Farmworker of the Year Award winner. She has worked for the Prescott, Washington, based company FirstFruits for 35 years and held various roles in the company’s cherry and apple production from planting, nursery, picking, pruning and packing. The four other Farmworker of the Year finalists include: Andres Aguilar, Eduardo Avina, Crisanta Morales and José Luis Segura. The award was presented by The Packer and the Equitable Food Initiaiive.

Michelle Reimers, Turlock Irrigation District General Manager, has announced her resignation effective June 21. Reimers has served as general manager since January 2020. Her successor has not been announced.

The North American Plant Protection Organization's executive committee has selected Francisco Javier Trujillo Arriaga as the new NAPPO chief scientist. He brings experience as a senior policy official in the Mexican agricultural ministry, leading large-scale plant pest control and eradication programs. Trujillo Arriaga has also been a key member of the government’s international phytosanitary trade negotiating team. He will replace Stephanie Bloem upon her retirement in June after a nine-year tenure as NAPPO’s executive director. 

The National Wildlife Federation has tapped Michael McShane as communications director. Previously, McShane was the communications director for Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev..

Jayce Jimenez, J.D. candidate at Harvard Law, has joined the House Agriculture Committee minority staff as a legal fellow. He previously worked as a student attorney at the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, legal intern at the Clean Air Task Force and as an honors intern at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

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USDA has filled three senior staff positions. Crestina Martinez has been appointed Colorado state director for Rural Development. She has experience as director of strategic outreach and advocacy at Xcel Energy and as chief of staff in the Office of the Colorado lieutenant governor. Yeshimebet Abebe has been selected as deputy assistant secretary for administration. A J.D. recipient from the Miami School of Law, AbeFrancie Tolle USDA RMA.jpegFrancie Tolle, USDA RMAbe comes from USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Business Center. Nina Anand transfers from the Food Safety and Inspection Service to be a speechwriter in the Office of Communications.

Bob Trogele, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Vanguard Corp., retired May 31. His career spanned more than 35 years in the agrochemical industry, nine with AMVAC.

USDA's Risk Management Agency has hired Francie Tolle as deputy administrator for compliance. In addition to operating an Oklahoma wheat, row crop and cattle farm, Tolle worked at the Farm Service Agency and RMA Insurance Services and Product Management. 

The USDA Office of the Chief Economist has hired Peyton Ferrier as senior economist on the livestock team. Previously, Ferrier focused on economic analysis of poultry and egg markets at the Agricultural Marketing Service and conducted research on food safety, trade regulations and invasive species at the Economic Research Service.

Richard Crowder, a longtime economist and agribusiness leader who served as chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative during the George W. Bush administration, has died at the age of 84. Crowder, who also served as USDA’s undersecretary of international affairs and commodity programs from 1989 to 1992, later became senior vice president of DeKalb Genetics Corp. and was president of the American Seed Trade Association before joining USTR in 2006. His funeral was Sunday, June 2, in Baskerville, Virginia.

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