The International Dairy Foods Association has made three staff changes. Andrew Jerome was promoted to vice president of communications. He has been IDFA's communications since 2020 after working at Torrey Advisory Group and the National Farmers Union. Jessica Matsko was promoted to manager of executive office and special projects. She held several IDFA administrative positions for 17 years. Victoria Pender has been promoted to manager of events and programs. She worked earlier at the American Farm Bureau Federation.  

The Food Research and Action Center named Crystal FitzSimons interim president. She has led FRAC’s child nutrition work for 16 years, recently as directSusan Luke, Syngenta.jpgSusan Luke, Syngentaor of child nutrition programs and policy. During the transition, Lynette Fraga, a veteran nonprofit executive, has been tapped as senior advisor at FRAC. The changes come after Kelly Horton, who was appointed interim president in April, stepped down July 1. Horton succeeded Luis Guardia, who left after four years as president. FRAC has launched a search for a permanent head in collaboration with Boardwalk Consulting. 

Syngenta hired Susan Luke as a senior communications manager for Syngenta U.S. crop protection and corporate communications. She will work with the government affairs and legal teams on U.S. issues management. Luke recently was director of global issues and crisis communication for Bayer’s crop science division. She reports to Kathy Eichlin, head of U.S. Crop Protection and Corporate Communications. She started Monday. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "G.T." Thompson named Kelsey Holt as communications director in his personal office. She was previously press secretary on his committee staff. Holt succeeds Maddison Stone, who resigned to become director of strategic communications at the U.S. Travel Association.

Tom Brand, executive director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting for 12 years, will become director of the St. Joseph Community Alliance in Missouri July 29. Before NAFB, he was farm director at KFEQ radio in Missouri for 15 years. 

USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor administered the oath of office to six new Foreign Agricultural Service officers. They are Damian Ferrese, assigned to Nairobi, Kenya; Joshua DeMoss, Beijing, China; Jeffrey Galloway, Accra, Ghana; Benjamin Henderson, Hanoi, Vietnam; Katherine McBride, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Jason Wrobel, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Matthew Wade Tennessee Department of Agriculture.jpgMatthew Wade, Tennessee Department of Agriculture

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture hired Matthew Wade as director of its consumer and industry services division. He worked than three decades at Middle Tennessee State, recently as director of its farm laboratories. 

Invariant added Nathan Yanez as a manager. Previously he was senior account executive at California-based Lucas Public Affairs focused on biotechnology and the environment. A California-Davis graduate, Yanez has interned on Capitol Hill and in the California legislature.

Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc., a startup with an ammonia recovery system that produces organic and low-carbon nitrogen fertilizer products from manure waste, has appointed Turk Stovall and Bob Weerts to its board. Stovall is a fifth-generation Montana rancher and CEO-owner of Stovall Ranching Companies and Yellowstone Cattle Feeders. Weerts is an entrepreneur from Minnesota who has founded four companies, including Erosion Control Plus and Green Energy and Development. 

Joseph Molokwu joined the U.S. International Trade Administration full-time as an international trade compliance analyst. He has held internships with ITA, the Senate Agriculture Committee's Republican staff, and with the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Molokwu graduated from Baylor in May with a degree in international studies. 

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation tapped Kerin Clark as executive vice president. She has been with Farm Bureau since serving as an intern in July 1994 and recently was director of media and member relations. Clark will succeed Ken Hamilton, who retires in October. 

Sarah Kelly will cover agriculture and food issues for Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kan., as a senior legislative assistant. Kelly has previously worked at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse and in the office of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. 

Snack manufacturing company Truly Good Foods promoted Eric Leonard to chief strategy officer. He served as the company’s chief financial officer for the past two years. 

Three state farm bureaus have elected new presidents: David Kent of Maine, Darren Strand of Hawaii and Dan Wright in Arkansas.

Scoular has appointed Kari O’Neill Potts as chief legal officer and corporate secretary, effective July 13. She succeeds Megan Belcher, who had been named chief legal officer at Kohler Co.  

                   It's easy to be "in the know" about agriculture news from coast to coast! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news. Simply click here.

The U.S. Apple Association promoted Christopher Gerlach to vice president of insights and analytics. Since joining USApple in 2020, he has directed economic and data analytics reports. Gerlach previously worked at the International Council of Shopping Centers. 

Christopher Gerlach USApple.jpgChristopher Gerlach, U.S. Apple Association

Anita Sharkey joined the Indiana Soybean Alliance as a marketing communications specialist. A recent Illinois State graduate,  she previously was communications and agronomy intern at the Illinois Soybean Association. 

Anna Claire Stietenroth joined the office of Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., as a legislative assistant. She will work on agriculture, food, animals, transportation and public works areas. A Georgia graduate, Stietenroth was previously legislative assistant to Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. 

The Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association has selected new officers and board members. The 2024-2025 officers include Eric Johnson of FMC Corporation as president, Keith Shaw of Mayo Ag Services as vice chairman and Rhonda Trimble of Eurochem as secretary/treasurer. Board members selected for 2024-2027 terms include Aaron Bryson of Wedgworth’s Inc., Charles Lanfier of Brandt, Jim Faircloth of Syngenta Crop Protection, Mike Roberts of Griffin Fertilizer Co. and Keith Shaw of Mayo Ag Services. 

Madeline Ring has left the National Farmers Union. She worked as assistant to the president since January 2023. Ring was previously a staff assistant for the House Agriculture Committee. 

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association named Melinda Witten president and CEO. She comes from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, most recently as senior director of leadership development. 

Riley Larson was promoted to legislative assistant in the office of Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., covering agriculture and food. He previously worked at FTI Consulting. 

After two years, Keith Harrison left the NADSA Foundation, where he was program manager, to join the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture as director of development. He worked at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Farmers Cooperative before NASDA. 

Fred Davis was promoted to senior legislative assistant in the office of Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C. He will work on the agriculture, food, immigration, and foreign trade portfolio areas. 

ChadChad Groves, Seaboard Foods.jpgChad Groves, CEO of Seaboard Foods  Groves is the new president and CEO of Seaboard Foods. Prior to joining Seaboard in 2021, he held leadership positions at Trilliant Food & Nutrition LLC and High Liner Foods and was a board member and treasurer of the National Pork Board. Groves succeeds Peter Brown, who retired. 

Nate Robinson was promoted to senior legislative assistant for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del. He will manage agriculture, food, energy, environmental protection, public lands and natural resources areas. 

James M. Inhofe, a former senator from Oklahoma, died at age 89. He suffered a stroke over the Fourth of July holiday and passed away Tuesday, his family said in a statement. Inhofe served in the Senate from 1994 until his retirement in 2023, including stints as chair of both the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Armed Services Committee. Inhofe also represented Oklahoma in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1994.

Larry L. Groce, a Plainville, Illinois, farmer and past chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, died July 1 at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois. He was 80. Groce was presented the council’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 commemorating his more than 40 years of dedication to American agriculture. He chaired the USGC in 1994 at a time when U.S. coarse grains export markets shifted from Europe to Asia and the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated. Groce was an honorary life fellow of the Farm Foundation and a member of its Round Table, and vice president of Global Industries, a Nebraska-based maker of grain storage, drying, and handling systems.

University of Minnesota crop science professor Don Wyse, a prominent advocate of sustainable agriculture, died July 2 of injuries suffered in a fall. He was 77. Wyse co-founded the Forever Green Initiative more than a decade ago. The perennial grain Kernza is one of more than a dozen sustainable crops developed at Minnesota as part of the initiative. Wyse was co-director of the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management.

Duane E. Eaton, who retired in 2014 as head of meetings and trade shows at the former Produce Marketing Association, died July 3. He was 75. Eaton had a 41-year career as an association executive, including 34 years at PMA, which merged with the United Fresh Produce Association in 2022 to form the International Fresh Produce Association.

For more news, go to