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Names in the News - March 20, 2019

IDEM seeks nominations for environmental excellence awards

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is accepting nominations for the 2019 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. These recognize individuals and organizations who have implemented outstanding environmental strategies into their operations and decision-making processes.

IDEM and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office will present seven awards, one in each of the following categories: Energy/Renewable Resources; Environmental Education/Outreach; Five Year Continuous Improvement; Greening the Government; Land Use/Conservation; Pollution Prevention; and Recycling/Reuse.

The public is invited to submit nominations, and organizations may self-nominate. Nominations are open to all Indiana facilities, government agencies, individuals, and other groups that implement exemplary environmental projects or initiatives with measurable results. An instructional webinar, eligibility requirements, and details about the nomination process are available at

Nominations must be received by IDEM no later than 5 p.m. EDT on April 1. For questions, contact Cameron Maschino at 317-233-5434 or

NFU Beginning Farmer Institute taking applications for 2019-20

WASHINGTON, D.C. — National Farmers Union (NFU) announced the opening of the application period for its Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) program class of 2019-20. NFU encourages new farmers of any age from operations of any size, type, or geography to apply for the class.

BFI’s hands-on training provides beginning farmers and ranchers in the U.S. with the tools they need to lead successful farm and ranch operations and the opportunity to grow as leaders in their communities and American agriculture. The program will host three in-person sessions in Washington, D.C., California, and Georgia over the coming year.

Programming will focus on equipping participants with skillsets in business formation, accounting, taxation, labor, credit, and business planning. Women and veterans represent a majority of program’s past participants.

The application period will be open until April 12. BFI is sponsored by FUI Foundation, Farm Credit Council, and CHS Foundation. More information about BFI is available at

Sleight to retire as USGC president and CEO this summer


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) since 2012, will retire this summer following the appointment of his successor, the Council's board of directors announced at the organization's membership meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.

“I have done what I intended to accomplish, and as I move forward to this new phase of my own life, I am confident the Council is headed in the right direction and poised for continued growth as a relevant, innovative, and impactful organization,” Sleight said.

Jim Stitzlein, chair of the board of directors, said, “We would love for Tom to stay; however, we are fully understanding of his desire for what is hopefully a long and well-deserved retirement with his wife and family.” He has appointed a search committee comprised of representatives from its diverse membership, including the corn, sorghum, barley, ethanol, and agribusiness sectors.

Sleight has worked at the Council a total of 25 years, beginning in 1983, and has done nearly every job it has to offer. He left the Council in 1999 to lead the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ marketing division and later the New York Farm Viability Institute in his home state. He returned as vice president in 2010 before being selected as president and CEO in 2012.

Houston of Tennessee takes over helm of NCBA


NEW ORLEANS, La. — Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn., was named president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assoc. (NCBA) at the organization’s annual meeting in New Orleans on Feb. 2. Houston had served as 2018 president-elect.

Houston and her husband, Mark, own and operate East Tennessee Auction Market in Sweetwater. She has been active in the beef industry for more than 30 years, first serving at the state level then being elected to positions in national posts. She has been an NCBA board member since 1996.

Fellow Tennessean Don Terry was elected to serve on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

NCBA policy priorities were also established at the meeting. These included work in fake meat; trade and market access; Dietary Guidelines; and regulatory reform and implementation.

Agricultural Retailers Assoc. bestows top honor on Yargus

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Agricultural Retailers Assoc. (ARA) honored Larry Yargus with its highest individual honor, the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1992, Yargus acquired Layco, the company his father Lloyd Allen Yargus founded, and led the company’s transition to Yargus Manufacturing, Inc.

Established in 2001, the ARA Lifetime Achievement Award was renamed in 2010 after the late Eberspacher, who served as ARA president and CEO from 2001 until his death in 2009. The award is designed to recognize career-spanning achievements in and contributions to the agricultural retail industry.

Not only has Yargus led his Marshall, Ill., family business to major success, celebrating its 50th anniversary, but he has played a pivotal role in helping to guide ARA to be the strong organization it is today. He has tirelessly supported retailers professionally and personally. He has always understood and appreciated the critical role of retailers in the supply chain and providing superior service to the American farmer.

Wilmoth heading up Indiana grain buyers licensing agency


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced the hiring of Harry Wilmoth as director of the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency.

Wilmoth grew up on a commercial beef cattle operation in Gentry, Ark. He was an active member in FFA and 4-H, and showed swine and beef cattle at the local, state and national levels. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food and life sciences in 2011 and a master’s degree in agricultural economics in 2015.

Previous to ISDA, Wilmoth was in charge of commodity feed purchasing for a fully integrated chicken company. He also worked for three years with The Andersons as a senior account representative.

He will also serve as chair of the Indiana Grain Indemnity Corp. board of directors and work with local, state and federal agencies, as well as the private sector, to better understand the needs of Indiana’s grain warehouses.

Johnson installed as chief of Agricultural Retailers Assoc.

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Agricultural Retailers Assoc. (ARA) installed Troy Johnson of Wilbur-Ellis as chair of the association during the closing session of the 2018 ARA Conference and Expo in Boca Raton.

He succeeds John Oster of Morral Cos. in the position. Each chair serves a one-year term. Johnson shared with attendees his commitment to the association for the coming year, outlining goals that include continuing to strengthen and broaden the membership and keeping the association’s mission front and center in all activities.

National Corn Growers Assoc. promotes Stemme to COO

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — The National Corn Growers Assoc. (NCGA) announced Fred Stemme was promoted to the office of chief operating officer.

Previously the vice president of Marketing and Development, he leads a nine-member team responsible for accounting, administration, diversity, facilities, fundraising, grassroots advocacy, human resources, IT, industry relations, leadership training, membership recruitment, retention and services, organizational meetings and state relations.

He grew up working on his family farm near Hermann, Mo., where they raised registered Polled Hereford cattle and grew corn, as well as other crops and livestock. He has a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and served as state FFA president while there.

National soybean board elects 2019 governing committee


ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The American Soybean Assoc. (ASA) board of directors elected its governing committee during the annual winter board meeting in St. Louis, and new board members immediately began their terms.

Davie Stephens of Clinton, Ky., serves as 2019 ASA president. He has been an ASA national director since 2012, serving as secretary and most recently vice president. He also represented his fellow state farmers on the Kentucky Soybean Assoc. board from 2006-14. He farms more than 5,000 acres in Kentucky and Tennessee, in soybeans, corn and chickens.

Stephens replaced John Heisdorffer of Iowa, and Heisdorffer moved to the role of ASA chair. Former Chair Ron Moore Ill rotated off the nine-member governing committee.

The ASA board also elected Bill Gordon of Minnesota to serve as vice president, a position that places him in line to serve as ASA president in 2020. Gordon is a fourth-generation farmer who grows soybeans and corn across 2,000 acres, including 250 in buffer strips and wetlands.

In addition, the board voted to elect Bret Davis of Ohio as secretary and Brad Kremer of Wisconsin as treasurer. Kevin Scott of South Dakota, Joe Steinkamp of Indiana, Brad Doyle of Arkansas and Ronnie Russell of Missouri were elected as at-large members of the governing committee.

New members of the ASA board are Daryl Cates and David Droste of Illinois and Christopher Hill of Minnesota.

McNeil to lead Diamond V dairy sales in Michigan

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Diamond V’s ruminant team continues to grow, with Ashleigh McNeil joining the company as regional sales manager for Michigan.

McNeil earned her B.S. in biology/pre-veterinary from Hope College in Holland, Mich., before earning her veterinary technology degree from Front Range Community College in Ft. Collins, Colo., and going on to complete her M.S. in epidemiology and agricultural economics at Colorado State University.

She then started her career in the dairy and animal health industries, including on-farm dairy management and work in dairy health research and sales. Prior to joining Diamond V, she was a dairy production specialist for Zoetis serving Colorado and southwestern Kansas.

Newman to retire after 15 years as AFIA president/CEO


ARLINGTON, Va. — American Feed Industry Assoc. President and CEO Joel G. Newman announced that he will be retiring from the association effective December 2019. The association has formed a selection committee to facilitate the transition process over the next year and hired Kincannon & Reed to assist in recruiting Newman’s successor.

Newman has led AFIA for the past 15 years, in which he has ushered in a landmark era of change. He has also served as president of the association’s public charity, the Institute for Feed Education and Research, since its inception. He holds an MBA in finance and marketing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s in animal science from West Virginia University.

The committee aims to conduct candidate interviews this spring with the goal of making a candidate recommendation to the board for its review by the summer. Interested individuals can contact Jim Gerardot at 636-795-6463 or for more information about the position.

National Biodiesel Board hires new regulatory affairs director


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced it hired Kate Shenk as director of Regulatory Affairs. She comes to NBB from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), where she led a regulatory affairs committee and developed analyses and comments on regulatory policies.

Shenk brings extensive knowledge of the regulatory policies that shape the biofuels industry’s growth. Her addition to NBB’s Washington-based federal affairs staff will increase the biodiesel industry’s effectiveness in policy advocacy.

NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries, including producers, feedstock suppliers and fuel distributors. Headquartered in Jefferson City, Mo., NBB maintains a Washington, D.C., office for federal affairs and work on regulatory issues surrounding international trade and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

Smith joins Seed Consultants as Ohio district sales manager


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, Ohio — Seed Consultants, Inc. (SCI) welcomes Travis Smith as a district sales manager in north-central Ohio.

Smith holds a degree in agricultural business and applied economics with a specialization in agronomy from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining SCI, Travis has had experience in sales, agronomy and seed.

SCI specializes in corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa specially developed and tested for the unique soil types and growing conditions of the Eastern Corn Belt. Seed Consultants products are consistent top-performers in area trials, and the company invests heavily in local plot testing at 75 research locations.

Quality Technology welcomes new sales, marketing manager

ELGIN, Ill. — Quality Technology International welcomed a new regional sales and marketing manager, Brandon Bess, focusing on the turkey market segment. Bess will be providing sales and technical support for turkey producers, veterinarians and nutritionists.

He will work with QTI’s Animal Health Team to help manage territory account plans within the turkey market segment and develop improvements that impact the sales territory. Before joining QTI, Bess worked in management and supervisory positions at Boehringer-Ingelheim Animal Health, Merial Select and Tyson Foods.

Bess completed his bachelor of science degree in poultry science at North Carolina State University. He later graduated with a master’s in agricultural education and agricultural business from North Carolina A&T State University.

Second annual summit awards honor best in soil health

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Five dedicated leaders in soil health received Seeds of Change awards at the 2019 Soil Health Partnership (SHP) Summit, Jan. 15-16 in St. Louis. These awards highlight those participants in the SHP who go above and beyond to promote soil health throughout the year.

The recipients include two local farmers. “Ace Agronomist” is Bryce Kujawa of Mount Vernon, Ill. He connected SHP with a pilot associate program site in southern Illinois and continues to support and share information about SHP’s efforts. An educator at heart, he takes the time to teach others and ask thought-provoking questions about soil health and cover crops.

The “Exceptional Educators” award went to John and Joan Maxwell of Donahue, Iowa. The Maxwells take the initiative to tell the story of what’s happening on their farm to anyone and everyone, from local kindergarten students to visitors from Brazil.

They love to share how a successful dairy and crop farm can sustainability feed the growing population while caring for the land. John is a strong advocate for the Soil Health Partnership and has been featured in print and television news.

JOHN AND JOAN MAXWELL of Donahue, Iowa, were named the SHP’s Exceptional Educators with an award in January.

(Photo provided)

Seed Genetics Direct names Jeffries as vice president

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ohio — Chris Jeffries, president of Seed Genetics Direct, and the SGD team recently welcomed Todd Jeffries as the company’s vice president of sales and operations.

Todd joins his father, Chris, to provide quality and competitive genetics to farmers in the Eastern Corn Belt through SGD, a fast-growing seed company in Jeffersonville. Todd brings 20 years of experience to SGD, including 12 years as a seedsman and numerous honors and recognitions.

In his new role, he will assist farmers with seed-purchasing decisions, support research and testing initiatives, collaborate with the marketing and sales team, aid in logistics management and serve as a core member of the production planning team.

Todd earned his bachelor’s degree in applied management from Ohio University. He has also completed agronomy and seed biotechnology courses through Purdue University and the University of California-Davis, respectively.

Kettler chairs national plant and pesticide committee

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — National Assoc. of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President Jeff Witte appointed Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler to serve as chair of the association’s Plant Agriculture and Pesticide Regulation Committee.

NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association that represents the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories, and has six standing committees. As chair, Kettler will oversee the committee’s work, which is to review and establish the association’s policy positions on national issues including, but not limited to, plant health, biotechnology, pollinator health, pesticides and invasive species.

The committee will host monthly calls to discuss these issues. If adopted, those policies will be used by NASDA to advocate on behalf of the industry when meeting with lawmakers, government agencies, organizations and key stakeholders throughout the year.

Kettler was also appointed to serve as a member at-large for the NASDA Foundation. In that role, he will provide guidance on the Foundation’s projects that support and enhance the work being done by the nation’s departments of agriculture.

Lankhorst named president/CEO of Krone North America

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Krone announced Dietz Lankhorst has been named president and CEO of Krone North America, headquartered in Memphis. Lankhorst will replace Rusty Fowler, who is retiring.

Lankhorst comes to Krone from MTD Products, Inc. of Valley City, Ohio, where he had served as vice president of European Operations since 2013. In that role he oversaw central purchasing, and the relocation and startup of manufacturing facilities. He began his business career as a financial analyst with Ford AG, in Cologne, Germany, in 2002.

He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Cologne University of Applied Science in 1998 and a finance degree at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, Monchengladbach Campus, in 2001. He represents the fifth generation of a family-owned agricultural equipment dealership in Neuenhaus.

Vestaron appoints Mitchell as director of marketing

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Vestaron announced the appointment of Sherry Mitchell as its director of marketing. She most recently was North America director of communications for Nufarm Americas, a developer and marketer of crop protection and enhancement products, for its agriculture and turf segments.

She also has strong brand and creative experience in other fields including creative agencies and educational institutions. “Vestaron’s commitment and unique approach to crop protection is inspiring. It is with great enthusiasm that I join the team to share with growers the exceptional biocontrol solutions the company offers,” Mitchell said.

New IBCA and IBC board beginning work for 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. (IBCA) held elections during recent Area Beef Meetings to choose three area directors who sit on the IBCA-Indiana Beef Council board of directors.

Beef producers in Area 1 elected Fred Glover of Milan, producers in Area 5 reelected Jeff Sherfield of Spencer and producers in Area 7 reelected Cody Sankey of Economy.

During the convention at the Sheraton Hotel on Jan. 26, the IBCA membership elected officers for 2019-20. They are President Dr. Bruce Lamb of Milford, President-Elect Neal Smith of Pendleton, Vice President Chad Lanum of Flora and Treasurer Andrew Stewart of Greensburg.

Also serving on the Executive Committee with the officers are Promotions Committee Chair Dr. Jennie Hodgen, Membership Chair Tim Schwab and Immediate Past President Joe Horstman.

THE 2019-20 IBCA Executive Committee are, from left, Andrew Stewart, Jennie Hodgen, Tim Schwab, Joe Horstman, Dr. Bruce Lamb and Chad Lanum.

Beef industry’s best honored at annual awards banquet


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. (IBCA) honored the state’s top cattlemen during their Annual Convention in Indianapolis on Jan. 26.

IBCA leadership presented the 2018 Friend of the Industry Award to Randy Haymaker with Hoosier Energy. A staunch supporter of the Indiana agriculture, Hoosier Energy has generously sponsored the IBCA area beef meetings for many years.

To honor cattlemen who possess beef management skills and leadership abilities, the IBCA awarded the 2018 Young Cattleman of the Year to Dr. Paul Hodgen of Roachdale. Following research positions with Monsanto, he moved his family home to operate a commercial cow herd and grain operation.

The prestigious Outstanding Cattleman of the Year Award was presented to Phillip and Patty Dow of Paragon. Extensively involved in their community for many years, they take great pride in their diversified grain and livestock operation and in the fact their Hoosier Homestead farms have been in the family since 1870.

The most esteemed award each year is the coveted Robert C. Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award. Barry Jordan of Rennselaer and the late Alan Armstrong of Springville were the 2018 award recipients. Jordan was awarded the Young Cattleman of the Year in 1983, served as the co-chair of the first IBCA Hoosier Beef Congress in 1987 and was Cattleman of the Year in 2000. He also served as 2005 IBCA president.

Armstrong was an educator for 43 years while continuing the growth of the family farm to a productive 3,060-acre beef cattle, hay and crop farm. With a strong commitment to be a steward of the land through soil and water conservation, he continued to grow the family farm to 1,500 cattle and served as IBCA Area 2 director.

AgriNovus adds agbioscience leaders to board and council

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — AgriNovus Indiana has added two new members to its board of directors: Alan Tio, CEO, Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. and Chris Lowery, senior vice president, Workforce Alignment for Ivy Tech Community College.

Tio leads the community’s efforts to promote economic growth throughout Kosciusko County. KEDCo is the nonprofit full-service economic development organization serving the county. He received his bachelor’s degree in international studies from Miami University and a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University.

Lowery chairs the Career Coaching and Navigation Action Team for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Workforce Cabinet and is chair of the Board of Trustees of the Sagamore Institute think tank. He received his master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University and a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University.

AgReliant Genetics also joins AgriNovus as an Innovation Council member. The third-largest corn seed company in the United States and headquartered in Westfield, AgReliant has production locations in the Midwest and 13 research facilities across North America.

Holcomb makes appointments to Soil Conservation, Fair boards

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced new appointments and reappointments to various state boards and commissions, including the state Soil Conservation and State Fair boards.

He appointed one new member to the Soil Conservation Board, with a term expiring Jan. 1, 2023. Amy Burris of Loogootee is a farmer at Burris Family Farms.

He also reappointed Martin Chattin of Decker, president of Chattin Brothers, Inc., and Robert Eddleman of Indianapolis, associate supervisor for the Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District. Their terms also expire on Jan. 1, 2023.

And Olgen Williams, former deputy mayor of the city of Indianapolis, was reappointed to the State Fair Board until Sept. 30, 2022.

QTI welcomes new layer sales and marketing manager

ELGIN, Ill. — Quality Technology International announces the appointment of Jeffrey Jordan as sales and marketing manager, focusing on the layer market segment.

Jordan will be providing sales and technical support for producers, veterinarians, and nutritionists. He will work with QTI’s Animal Health Team to manage existing and prospective customers.

Before joining QTI, he served as layer operations manager with Cal-Maine Foods, and also had served with Tyson Foods and Simmons Food. He earned a bachelor of science degree in animal science from the University of Arkansas.

Red Gold awards E.A. Reichart honor to grower Abbett

ELWOOD, Ind. — Red Gold, Inc. of Elwood presented Glenn Abbett of LaCrosse, Ind., a plaque naming him the winner of the E.A. Reichart Quality Achievement Award to honor him as Tomato Grower of the Year.

Abbett Farms was chosen from a select group of seven master growers, picked from 46 growers for Red Gold. Glenn Abbett also received his eighth Red Gold Master Grower award. Winners received specially designed plaques in recognition of their achievement in growing high-quality tomatoes, exhibiting industry leadership, and professionalism.

All growers for Red Gold have had training on good production practices, employee safety, and human resources. As a tomato grower for Red Gold, Abbett has excelled in stewardship and sustainable practices on his farm and participates in the Red Gold IPM program. This year’s production from Abbett Farms would account for more than 30 million cans of Red Gold whole, diced, stewed, and specialty tomato products.