WASHINGTON, September 13, 2017 - A leader in USDA’s organic work is stepping down, there’s been some shuffling at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and CropLife America is welcoming some new members to its staff. For more on those announcements and many more, check out this week’s Farm Hands on the Potomac:

Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator for the National Organic Program under USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for the last eight years, is stepping down from his post at the end of September. In a letter to organic stakeholders, McEvoy announced that he will be returning home to Olympia Washington to spend more time with his grandchildren as well as “have a less intense work life and spend more time biking and birding.” AMS Acting Administrator Bruce Summers and Acting Deputy Administrator Jenny Tucker will lead the NOP in McEvoy’s absence.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has announced several appointments and promotions for the committee’s staff. Johanna Hardy was named staff director of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, after serving as counsel for the panel since 2008. Denny Wirtz is the new staff director of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. Wirtz has been Shuster’s legislative director since 2015. And Ian Bennitt was appointed to the position of staff director of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Bennitt had been legislative director for Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, who chairs that subcommittee. Shuster also appointed Collin McCune as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s director of coalitions and outreach, Kathy Loden as parliamentarian, Brittany Smith as director of member services, and Hannah Matesic as legislative operations assistant.

Connor Hamburg has joined the National Corn Growers Association as its manager of public policy and regulatory affairs. The James Madison University alum previously worked as a legislative assistant to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill, advising on issues including the environment, energy and agriculture. Hamburg also worked for former Reps. John Carney of Delaware and Steve Israel of New York. Hamburg succeeds Ethan Mathews, who moved to CropLife America as director of government relations. At NCGA, Mathews’ portfolio included environmental legislation and regulation.

CropLife America has hired Brenda Stahl as its director of human health policy. Stahl comes to CLA from the Office of Food Safety within the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA. Stahl, who holds a doctorate in food science from Iowa State, is the author of several Food Safety Modernization Act guidance documents. She also worked with FDA’s Pesticide Management Program in collaboration with USDA and the EPA.

John Goldberg, who served as science adviser to the House Agriculture Committee for more than two decades, is now a partner at the Normandy Group. His clients include National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the Florida Department of Citrus, the Texas State University System and the National Pest Management Association. Goldberg, who left House Ag in 2016, is the founder of Science Based Strategies, a consulting firm focusing on food, agriculture and environmental policy.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is honoring employees from three state ag departments this week at its annual meeting in New Orleans. Joe Reardon, assistant commissioner for Consumer Protection at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was chosen for the James A. Graham Award, which recognizes an individual for “outstanding work in providing service to agricultural producers.” The Communications Award goes to Donna Gilson, senior communications specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. And Kristy McCabe, finance director at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is receiving the Douglass-Irvin Administration Award for “outstanding contributions within a state agency resulting in improved efficiency and impact.” NASDA also chose Dennis Kelly, head of state affairs for Syngenta, to receive the newly established Ambassador’s Circle Award, which recognizes an external stakeholder “who has provided exemplary dedication to advancing NASDA’s mission."

Former DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Borel was appointed to the board of directors of Hampton Creek, the San Francisco-based company that sells plant-based food. Borel retired from DuPont in 2016 after nearly four decades with the company. He joined as a sales rep and eventually directed oversight of DuPont Pioneer and the company’s Crop Protection and Nutrition and Health businesses.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau has hired a TV news anchor as its public policy director. Lynda Loveland starts the new job Dec. 1. Loveland, who grew up on a farm, has been with Capitol Broadcasting Co. for 18 years and is currently co-anchoring the Raleigh-based WRAL news at 4, 5:30 and 10 p.m. She says the new job will allow her to spend more evening hours with her three children, ages 10, 12 and 14.

President Trump has nominated Paul Trombino III to be the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, within the Department of Transportation. Trombino is currently the president of McClure Engineering Co., a civil engineering company focused on transportation, aviation, water, and structures projects. He also served as the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation from 2011 to 2016.

Former National Corn Growers Association President Fred Yoder has been elected a co-chair of Solutions from the Land (SfL). The fourth-generation Ohio farmer joins A.G. Kawamura, a produce grower and former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy as an SfL co-chair.  A founding board member of SfL, Yoder also chairs the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance.

David Knopf has been named the chief financial officer at Kraft Heinz. The 29-year-old is taking over from Paulo Basilio, who is now president of Kraft Heinz's US business. The company also announced that George Zoghbi will transition from his role as COO and will begin serving as a strategic adviser.

Believe it or not, Cara Mund, the new Miss America, has a connection to farm policy. The North Dakota native and Brown University grad interned a year ago with Senate Agriculture Committee member John Hoeven, R-N.D., who congratulated her on winning the crown. Mund has political aspirations of her own; she’d like to be North Dakota’s first female governor. 

Fred Ertl Jr., the former CEO of Dyersville Ertl Co., which sold farm toys around the world, died late last month at the age of 87. A brother, Joseph Ertl, said Fred took over his father’s business when he was just 17 when the older Ertl became ill. “He was a great leader,” Joseph Ertl said. The company went on to employ hundreds of people in Dubuque County, Iowa.

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