WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 --  Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has named Matt Erickson, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation for the past four years, as the committee’s chief economist. Erickson also worked in USDA’s Rural Development office during the George W. Bush administration.

Roberts also announced other new hires for the committee staff. They include:

Anne Hazlett: chief counsel. A former director of agriculture for the state of Indiana, Hazlett has served as Republican chief counsel on the committee since 2009. She also worked as legal counsel to the House and Senate Agriculture committees during the development of the 2002 and the 2008 Farm Bill.

Chelsie Keys: senior profession staff, livestock and food safety issues. Keys comes to the panel after eight years with the National Pork Producers Council where she was director of government relations.

DaNita Murray: senior counsel. Murray most recently worked as counsel for the House Agriculture Committee. She has also worked for the National Corn Growers Association on biotechnology policy.

Andy Rezendes: investigative counsel: Rezendes most recently served as counsel on the investigations team of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Prior to joining that panel, he was in private practice for 10 years.

Anthony Seiler: staff assistant/legislative correspondent. A Kansas native, Seiler recently returned from Italy where he worked for two years with the University of Dallas Rome Program.

Norwood Charles Thornton III: senior professional staff and counsel. Thornton most recently worked as a counsel for Delta Strategy Group focusing on the derivatives markets.

Maddy Connor: staff assistant/legislative correspondent. A Kansas native, Connor joins the committee after interning for a major public relations firm.

In addition to committee staff, Roberts announced the hiring of William Stafford as a  legislative assistant for agriculture in his personal office in Washington. Stafford, most recently the director of government affairs at the National Association of Wheat Growers, joins Melvin Thompson, the senator’s long time Kansas agricultural assistant.

“I am proud to add people with experience in farming, ranching and agriculture policy-making to the staff,” Roberts said. “Our team is now complete and we look forward to our first hearing at the end of the month.”

To see a list of previously announced staff hires, click here.

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