WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2017 - Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is beefing up his press operation at USDA. New to the Communications Office are Meghan Rodgers as press secretary and Jake Wilkins, who most recently was working as a press assistant at the Republican National Committee. Rodgers, a Villanova University alum, had been working for Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. Wilkins will be picking up his master’s degree in political management from George Washington University in December.

President Trump’s nomination of Glen R. Smith to be a member of the Farm Credit Administration Board has been sent to the Senate. Smith is president and co-owner of Smith Land Service, which specializes in farm management, land appraisal and farmland brokerage services, working in about 30 Iowa counties. Smith also owns Smith Generation Farms, Inc., which encompasses about 2,000 acres of primarily corn and soybeans in western Iowa.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture elected a new slate of officers for the coming year during its annual meeting last week in New Orleans. Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steven Reviczky will serve as the group’s president for 2017-2018 and will host NASDA's annual meeting in Hartford, Conn., from Sept. 9-12. Elected to NASDA’s board of directors were New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte (vice president), Michigan Director of Agriculture Jamie Clover Adams (second vice president), and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (secretary-treasurer).

Megan Provost is joining join the Farm Foundation as vice president of policy and programs. Provost currently serves as U.S. government affairs manager for Dow AgroSciences. She previously served as a legislative assistant for then-Sen. Richard Lugar and as special assistant to the administrator at USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. She also worked as an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. Provost starts the new job Oct. 2.

Sonia Jimenez has been named the new deputy administrator for the Specialty Crops Program at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Jimenez began her USDA career over 25 years ago as a marketing specialist with AMS and spent the last three years as deputy administrator for the AMS Management and Analysis Program.

The Sorghum Checkoff has named Kim McCuistion as the organization’s animal nutrition director. Most recently, McCuistion served as the interim dean of the Honors College at Texas A&M University - Kingsville. She holds a master’s degree in animal science from Kansas State and a doctorate in agriculture from West Texas A&M. McCuistion began her relationship with the Sorghum Checkoff as a member of the High Value Markets Committee in 2011 and has traveled to several international meetings on behalf of the U.S. Grains Council and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers… The National Sorghum Producers (NSP) has hired Christi Stulp as relationship manager where she’ll lead the efforts of the Industry Partner and Elevator-Member programs. Stulp spent the last nine years farming with her husband Jeremy in southeast Colorado, and also leading a consumer-based direct sales team. Before that she worked for NSP where she had several duties, including launching the magazine Sorghum Grower and expanding the E-Member program to other states from Texas.

Kim Dietz, senior manager for Environmental, Natural and Organic Policy at the J.M. Smucker Co., has been elected as president of the Organic Trade Association’s board of directors. Dietz has served as the board’s vice president since 2016. She succeeds Melissa Hughes of Organic Valley, who served as president since 2014. Other officers announced at OTA’s annual members meeting in Baltimore last week include Marci Zaroff of Under the Canopy/MetaWear as secretary, and Rick Collins of Clif Bar and Co. as treasurer.

Matt McAlvanah is joining Farmers for Free Trade as senior director of communications. The organization is a bipartisan non-profit co-chaired by former senators Max Baucus and Richard Lugar focused on driving global competitiveness for the U.S. agriculture industry and supporting jobs that depend on agricultural trade. McAlvanah is a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public and Media Affairs

Tracy Stone-Manning, the former chief of staff for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and a longtime conservationist, is the new associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. Before serving as Bullock's chief of staff, she was Montana’s director of the Department of Environmental Quality. She was also a natural resources adviser and state director for Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

The Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville is honoring Marshall Matz as its distinguished graduate this year for his work on national and global food security. Matz, who has an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut, specializes in agriculture and global food security at OFW Law in Washington. The award will be presented at an Oct. 12 dinner in Louisville.

Noble Research Institute Professor Twain Butler has been named a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America, the CSSA’s highest honor. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research. Butler's research is focused on tall fescue, alfalfa, wheat and bermudagrass grazing systems to determine the optimal forages for the Southern Great Plains. Butler will be presented with the award at CSSA’s annual meeting in October.

Wesley Buchele, a former professor emeritus at Iowa State University who is widely recognized as “the father of the big round baler,” died Sept. 13 at a hospice in Ames, Iowa. He was 97. Buchele, who held a doctorate in agricultural engineering, was awarded 23 patents during his career, the most notable being the large round baler and the axial-flow threshing cylinder for combines. He said the hard work he put in as a teenager working on his family’s farm in Kansas led him to a lifelong interest in making the lives of farmers easier and safer.

(Correction: In the Sept. 13 Farm Hands on the Potomac column, Connor Hamburg’s predecessor as manager of public policy and regulatory affairs at the National Corn Growers Association was incorrectly identified. Hamburg succeeded Layla Soberanis, who left NGCA in July. Agri-Pulse regrets the error.)


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