WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2017 - Jason Weller, the former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, has moved on to Land O’Lakes, where he’ll be senior director of sustainability, based in Minnesota. Weller was the boss at NRCS for four years after serving as chief of staff there for almost that long. He starts the new job at the end of February.

Former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has replaced Jeff Sessions on the Senate Agriculture Committee, following Sessions’ confirmation as U.S. Attorney General and his resignation from the Senate. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange to fill Sessions’ seat. Strange is already making history. A former basketball player from Tulane University, the 6-foot-9-inch Strange is said to be the tallest senator ever.

The Senate Agriculture Committee added Kevin Bailey to its minority staff. Bailey has been working as a senior adviser at USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. The University of Kansas grad also handled agriculture and immigration issues at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Liz Hermsen has moved from Capitol Hill to take a job as a program analyst at USDA. She spent the last seven years or so on the staff of Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., advising on issues involving agriculture, food and nutrition, energy, environment and natural resources.

Ron Chastain has retired after a long career as a congressional aide, with USDA and with the Army National Guard. Chastain spent the past six years as agricultural liaison on the staff of Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. He also spent 32 years working for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. In addition, he served for nearly four decades in the National Guard, rising to the rank of major general. Boozman’s new ag liaison is Ty Davis.

Todd Wooten has left the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, where he was the minority’s senior counsel for energy and tax. He’s now a consultant with the S-3 Group, a government relations firm. Wooten also served as legislative director for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster, R-Pa., appointed Misty McGowen as the panel’s director of outreach and coalition. McGowen joins the committee from the American Petroleum Institute, where she spent the last seven years as the director of federal relations. Before that she worked on the staff of Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

Scott Peterson has been hired by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association as its senior vice president of communications. Prior to joining NEI, Peterson served as communications manager at the American Nuclear Energy Council, and before that as media relations representative at Illinois Power.

Eduardo L. (Eddy) Esteve, a merchant from Dallas, Texas, will serve as president of Cotton Council International for 2017. He and other CCI officers were elected by CCI’s board during the National Cotton Council’s annual meeting last weekend in Dallas. CCI is the NCC’s export promotion arm. Esteve, who moves up from CCI first vice president, succeeds Keith T. Lucas, a Garner, North Carolina, coop official who becomes CCI board chairman. Other CCI officers include: first vice president, Ted Schneider, producer, Lake Providence, Louisiana; second vice president, Hank Reichle, cooperative, Greenwood, Mississippi; and treasurer, E. Hope Brooks III, merchant, Memphis, Tennessee. … At the Dallas meeting the NCC also announced its directors. For a full list, click here…The late Charles C. Owen, a cotton ginner from Arizona, was named the 2016 winner of the National Cotton Council’s Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award at the group’s annual meeting. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her business career.

Carl Wittenburg has been elected chairman of the National Turkey Federation’s board of directors. Wittenburg, president and founder of Protein Alliance Inc., was chosen at NTF’s annual convention in Orlando. The board also elected Jeff Sveen, board chairman for Dakota Provisions, as vice-chairman, and Glenn Leitch, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, as secretary-treasurer.

Lindsay Corp. President and CEO Rick Parrod says he plans to retire at the end of the year to spend more time with his family – after 17 years at the helm of the irrigation equipment company.