WASHINGTON, September 6, 2017 - President Trump is moving to fill some of the top open positions at USDA. Last week he said he intends to nominate Bill Northey, currently Iowa’s agriculture secretary, to be Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Greg Ibach, who’s been ag director in Nebraska since 2005, was tapped to be Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and veteran DC lawyer Stephen Vaden was selected to be USDA’s Chief Counsel. The White House has also announced Steve Censky as nominee for USDA deputy secretary, Ted McKinney as USDA’s first Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs, and Sam Clovis as Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics.

Matt Leggett has been promoted to chief counsel on the majority staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He had been serving as deputy chief counsel since January. Previously, he served as policy counsel for the Senate Republican Policy Committee for Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming. Barasso also announced the hiring of Teri Donaldson as general counsel to the committee’s majority staff. Donaldson spent the past 14 years with DLA Piper LLC in Houston. Before that, she served for nearly 16 years in federal and state government – as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Florida, and as general counsel of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

Doug McKalip is starting a new job as senior adviser to APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services. McKalip, who began his career with USDA in 1994, spent the past year as director of Bioengineered Food Labeling and also as acting director of Country of Origin Labeling at the Agriculture Marketing Service. McKalip, who served as an acting chief of staff under Tom Vilsack when he was Agriculture Secretary, also spent several years on detail to the White House Domestic Policy Council and as coordinator of the White House Rural Council.

Rick Frank, one of the founding principals at OFW Law, has been recognized as the Agriculture Lawyer of the Year in the 2017 edition of the Finance Global Monthly Awards. Frank was also chosen as the 2017 Health Care Lawyer of the Year for the D.C. metro area. Frank served as OW Law’s managing principal for 37 years and is considered an expert on the labeling, advertising, inspection and safety of food and drug products regulated by USDA, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission.

Kristen Douglas has left the office of Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., where she served as the congresswoman’s deputy chief of staff. She’s staying in D.C., however, as a member of the federal relations and congressional affairs team representing her alma mater, the University of Arizona.

Katharine Cooksey was hired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as its new manager of media and external communications. The Texas A&M grad joined the Chamber from the House Ways and Means Committee where she was deputy press secretary. She’s been succeeded by Carah Goldoust, who had been handling special events and protocol for House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Crystal Martinez has departed the confines of Capitol Hill for the University of California, where she’s now director of education in the school’s Office of Federal Governmental Relations. For the past four years in D.C., Martinez was a legislative assistant to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Before that, the Notre Dame alum worked as an education program specialist in the Office of English Language Acquisition at the Department of Education.

Former oat breeder Lon Hall of South Dakota died Aug. 23 at the age of 69. Hall led the oat breeding program at South Dakota State University. In retirement, he started the Hall Seed Company with his son Jesse.

Veteran Washington communicator Arthur S. Jaeger died of brain cancer Aug. 27 at his home near Linden in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. He was 71. During more than four decades, he was a newspaper reporter and editor; press secretary for the late Rep. Gladys Noon Spellman, D-Md., and the late Sen. Edward Zorinsky, D-Neb.; and handled communications for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Cooperative Business Association and National Milk Producers Federation. From 2007 to 2013, he was senior director at the Washington public relations firm now known as Watson and Green, specializing in food and agriculture issues.