WASHINGTON, July 26, 2017 - Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s leadership team at USDA is taking shape, mostly along the lines Agri-Pulse predicted in May. President Trump selected Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney to become the department’s first undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and Sam Clovis to be undersecretary for research, education and economics. McKinney spent 19 years with Dow AgroSciences, and 14 years with Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly. Clovis served as chief policy adviser on the Trump campaign and has been working as a senior White House adviser at USDA since the president took office. He also has nominated American Soybean Association President Steve Censky to be deputy ag secretary. All three need Senate confirmation. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says Trump could announce Bill Northey, Iowa’s ag secretary, as his pick for undersecretary for farm production and conservation within a week or so. Sources have said the nomination has been tied up in paperwork.
Perdue has also named three individuals to top jobs within USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS). Brandon Lipps will serve as the administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, and as acting deputy underscretary of FNCS until the Senate confirms a permanent, presidentially nominated appointee. Maggie Lyons will serve as chief of staff and senior adviser to the undersecretary, while Kailee Tkacz will be a policy adviser. Most recently, Lipps worked for the Texas Tech University System as chief of staff and director of federal affairs in the office of Chancellor Robert Duncan. Lyons joined USDA from the National Grocers Association where she was the senior government relations director. Tkacz had been serving as the director of food policy for the Corn Refiners Association.
Food Policy Action has named Monica Mills as the organization's new executive director. Mills is a former director of government relations at the anti-hunger group Bread for the World. Tom Colicchio, FPA co-founder, food policy advocate and chef, noted that during her time at Bread for the World, Mills was named “Top Grassroots Lobbyist” by The Hill three years in a row. A native of South Dakota, Mills began her career in policy and politics working for senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson.
Victoria Broehm is the new director of communications for the American Feed Industry Association. She joins AFIA from CropLife International, where she managed communications on plant biotechnology issues on behalf of the global plant science industry.
Dr. Peter Lurie has been selected as the new executive director and president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A family physician, Lurie succeeds Michael Jacobson, who co-founded the nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog organization in 1971. Lurie most recently was the associate commissioner for Public Health Strategy and Analysis at the Food and Drug Administration. He also served as deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group from 2000 to 2009.
John B. McGuigan is the new director of industry affairs at the Hass Avacado Board. McGuigan previously was vice president of West Coast operations for Florida-based Ayco Farms. He also served in executive positions with Dulcinea Farms LLC, a business unit of Syngenta AG, and is a former vice president of fresh fruit sales with Sunkist Growers Inc. The 12-member Hass Avacado board directs promotion, research and information programs for, what else, the Hass avocado.
Delegates to the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress in Washington last week elected four farmers to three-year terms on the organization’s Corn Board. Taking office Oct. 1 will be: Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska, Gary Porter of Missouri and Kenneth Hartman of Illinois. Current board member Don Glenn of Alabama was re-elected.
Gravity Solutions Inc. added Rik Miller to its senior advisory group. A 31-year veteran of the DuPont Company, Miller currently serves on the board of directors of Cool Planet Energy Systems, Douglas Products, and Montana FFA Foundation, and is a senior advisor for Altamont Capital Partners. Gravity Solutions is an agricultural biotechnology public company commercializing its technology derived from and designed for Space with significant applications for agriculture on Earth.
The National Farm to School Network has announced the winner of its 2017 Innovation Fund Awards, which this year celebrate beginning farmers and farmer veterans. The winners are Dylan Strike, who founded Strike Farms near Bozeman, Montana, in 2013, and Jon Turner, a Marine veteran who, with his wife Cathy, started Wild Roots Farm in Bristol, Vermont, two years ago. The farmers were recognized for “their exemplary efforts in selling local produce to schools and engaging kids in learning where their food comes from.” The awards are presented with support from Farm Credit.
Ben Brancel, the head of Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, says he plans to retire on Aug. 13. He was appointed to the position by Gov. Scott Walker in 2011. Brancel is also a former state director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Ana Unruh Cohen is the new government affairs director with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Previously she served as director of energy, climate and natural resources in the office of Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. NRDC has also named Ed Yoon as permanent director of its Center for Policy Advocacy. Yoon has been serving as acting director.
Markus Rodehutscord, a professor of animal nutrition at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, was presented with the Poultry Nutrition Research Award at the recent annual meeting of the Poultry Science Association in Orlando, Florida. Rodehutscord’s research focuses on minimizing the excretion of nitrogen and phosphorous and improving the efficiency of amino acid and phosphorus utilization by poultry. The award is sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association in partnership with PSA.
The American Egg Board is welcoming Marc Dresner as its new manager of marketing communications. Dresner joins the egg board from IIR/KNect365 where he was a senior editor.
Sébastien Praud was appointed to the board of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium. Praud is research manager at Biogemma, a European plant biotechnology company that has sponsored the IWGSC since 2008. The IWGSC was established in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientists, and public and private breeders.
The National Restaurant Association has hired two new staffers as part of its advocacy team. Jessica Falborn, whose title is senior adviser, joins NRA from The Hill, where she launched the publication’s first premium digital news service. Adam Hasley most recently was working in China as the chief operating officer of an international consulting firm. He is now NRA’s director of advocacy research and insights.
Christopher Hicks, who served as USDA’s general counsel from 1986 to 1990, died late last month at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 66. A half-brother, George Hicks, said the cause of death was multiple organ failure. Christopher Hicks worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign and was later named an associate counsel to the president. In 2011, he was appointed general counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Ralph Regula, who represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District for 36 years, died July 19 at his farm near Navarre, Ohio, at the age of 92. A Republican and self-described “conservative on spending, progressive in programs,” Regula was known as a prominent supporter of protecting public lands. He held the same seat in Congress once held by President William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. For decades, Regula fought efforts to have Alaska’s Mount McKinley – the highest peak in North America, which was named after the former president – renamed Denali, which is derived from a native Alaskan term for “the high one.” When the federal government changed the name in 2015, Regula criticized the move, denouncing President Barack Obama as “a dictator.” “The law says it’s Mount McKinley,” he said, “and he can’t change a law by a flick of the pen.”