WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2017 - The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) hired Jason Linde as vice president of political affairs in its Government Relations Department. Linde most recently ran his own full service public affairs consulting firm. Previously, he worked for DDC Advocacy and the American Public Power Association.  An adjunct professor at George Washington University and Johns Hopkins, Linde also served on the staffs of three members of Congress.

The National Corn Growers Association has two new hires in its Washington D.C. office. Kathy Reding Bergren is already on the job as director of public policy for ethanol and Lesly Weber McNitt starts next week as director of public policy for trade and biotech. Bergren is a Kentucky native who has worked on Capitol Hill for Representatives Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Ron Lewis of Kentucky. McNitt most recently worked at USDA, first as chief of staff for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and then as chief of staff for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS).

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has inducted two retired agency leaders into the NASS Hall of Fame. Richard D. Allen was an agency historian. NASS says “his legacy includes the countless statisticians he helped develop into exceptional stewards of agricultural statistics.” Also inducted was Donald M. Bay, “for producing significant and lasting changes to NASS’ agricultural statistics program and organizational culture, including the transfer of the Census of Agriculture program from the Census Bureau to NASS.”

Tyson Foods is making some big changes in its top leadership team. The Arkansas-based meat giant announced last week that long-time executives Donnie King, Sara Lilygren and Gary Cooper will be leaving the company. King is president of North American operations, Lilygren is executive vice president for corporate affairs and Cooper is the company’s chief information officer. Tyson says the departures will occur “over a period of months” to ease the transition. The company also announced a new, 10-member leadership team that will report to new Tyson President and CEO Tom Hayes, who took over on Dec. 31. Tyson is one of the world’s largest food companies and its brands include Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Sara Lee. The company has about 114,000 employees worldwide.

Matt Barron, who has chaired the Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee in western Massachusetts for the last 18 years, is quitting the party, charging that party leaders in Boston are ignoring rural concerns. “I did this after nine years of growing frustration at the inability of the party to compete for rural and white working class voters,” Barron tells the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “The results of the Nov. 8 election really drove this situation home to the entire nation.” Barron, who owns his own political consulting practice, says he will work with Democratic U.S. Senate candidates and incumbents to illuminate the amount of work they have done in rural areas and to help them strategize proactive rural campaigns. “I’m in the process of preparing proposals for Democratic senators that are up for re-election in 2018 who are very strong advocates for rural America,” Barron said.

Clint Roberts, a former congressman and South Dakota agriculture secretary, died Feb. 13 at the age of 82. Roberts, who raised cattle and wheat in central South Dakota, served in the U.S. Congress from 1981-1983, and before that, was a member of the state legislature.

Marcia Zarley Taylor, executive editor at DTN/the Progressive Farmer for the past 10 years, passed away earlier this week after a short illness. During her 40-year-career in agricultural journalism, Taylor won just about every award there is to win, including the Oscar in Agriculture from the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, the AAEA’s Writer of the Year award, and the North American Agricultural Journalist Association’s Glen Cunningham Writer of the Year honor twice. A former president of the AAEA, Taylor was set to become NAAJA’s new president this spring. As Greg Horstmeier, DTN’s editor-in-chief wrote, “She changed DTN; she changed agricultural journalism; she changed modern agriculture.” On a personal note, Marcia was one of my early mentors when we both attended Iowa State, a well-respected colleague and friend. She will be sorely missed throughout our industry.