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Names in the News - October 31, 2018

Mehta tapped as leader of Soil Health Partnership

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Shefali Mehta has been tapped as the executive director of the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), a long-term data project that measures and quantifies the impact of farm management practices known to promote healthy soils. Practices that improve soil health include growing cover crops, reducing tillage and taking a science-based approach to nutrient management.

The SHP is a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Assoc (NCGA). More than 100 working farms are enrolled in 14 states. Mehta’s first priority is to ensure farmers get the full potential of the data collected so far. In the immediate months, the SHP will analyze these data and begin sharing those insights with farmers.

Mehta fills the position after Dr. Nick Goeser’s promotion to NCGA vice president of Production and Sustainability earlier this year. She received her Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics and a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Minnesota. She also holds an MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University and a B.A. in Economics from New York University.

Mehta is the co-founder and CEO of an agricultural technology start-up, Ceres Wave, and also founded and leads Open Rivers Consulting Associates.

National Corn Growers names Doggett its new CEO

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Corn Growers Assoc. (NCGA) Corn Board has named Jon Doggett as the organization’s new CEO. Doggett is the fifth CEO in the organization’s 61-year history.

Doggett has served in the capacity of NCGA interim CEO since August 1 and as executive vice president since late 2014. Prior to that, he served as vice president of public policy, and has continuously managed the organization’s 11-person Washington, D.C., office and led its public policy efforts since joining NCGA in July 2002.

Raised on his family’s Montana ranch, Doggett has substantial knowledge of production agriculture and agribusiness, as well as more than 30 years of agricultural policy and leadership experience, after moving to Washington in the late 1980s. Before joining NCGA, he served 11 years at the American Farm Bureau Federation, where he was its lead lobbyist on a number of public policy issues.

Doggett attended the University of Montana majoring in journalism and finance. He and his wife, Nancy, have two adult children and two grandchildren.

Cornell wins Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Amy Cornell, president of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana, has been selected as one of three recipients for the 2018 Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence.

She is the sole representative from the United States, with fellow award winners hailing from Canada and the United Kingdom. The award recognizes those who have achieved excellence in their field or demonstrated an extraordinary contribution to the agribusiness industry.

Cornell was nominated as a leader in the areas of agricultural law and policy, and as the “greatest champion” for Indiana’s 90,000 farmers and the 245,000 people who work in the sector. She facilitated a critical merger during her first year as president of the Agribusiness Council, and she is developing the state’s first ag law program at the request of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

Four industry leaders elected to Farm Foundation Board

OAK BROOK, Ill. — Four leaders working in diverse areas of the nation's food and agriculture sector have been elected to serve on the Farm Foundation board of directors:

•Dan Basse, CEO of AgResources Inc., is a commodity analyst advising domestic and international companies across the food value chain

•Robert Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois, is a crop physiology scientist who has spent the majority of his academic career working in land grant universities

•Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a six-time Olympic medalist, works to provide youth, adults and families with the resources to improve their quality of life through her leadership of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation

•Andy LaVigne is president of the American Seed Trade Assoc., with expertise in government relations, agriculture, food policy and international trade

In addition to the four new members, Jerome Lyman, a retired executive of McDonald's Corp., and Bill Buckner, CEO of Noble Research Institute, were reelected to their second three-year terms on the board.

The four new members of the board succeed John Hardin of Hardin Farms, Danville, Ind.; Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University; and Mike Martin, president of Florida Gulf Coast University, whose terms on the board expired; and Dan Glickman of the Aspen Institute, who stepped down from the board.

Spencer, LaGrange counties’ farmers win INFB awards

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Jonathan Spaetti and Derika Lynam-Spaetti of Spencer County and Neal and Lydia Wolheter of LaGrange County are the winners of two of Indiana Farm Bureau’s (INFB) top awards for young farmers in 2018 – the Excellence in Agriculture Award and the Achievement Award.

Excellence in Agriculture candidates were judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations, while the Achievement Award candidates were judged on their leadership abilities and on what they have achieved with their farms.

Spaetti and Lynam-Spaetti won the INFB Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from an owned production-agricultural operation. They will receive a John Deere Gator (courtesy of Farm Credit Services), a $3,000 cash prize (courtesy of INFB Insurance) and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the American Farm Bureau Foundation (AFBF) annual convention.

The Wolheters won the INFB Young Farmer Achievement Award, which recognizes young farmers who earn the majority of their income from their farms. They will receive a $6,000 cash prize (courtesy of INFB Insurance), 250 hours of free use of one M-Series tractor (courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corp.) and an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the AFBF annual convention.

The winners also will be awarded the David L. Leising Memorial Award.

These couples will represent Indiana in AFBF’s Young Farmer & Rancher Achievement and Excellence in Agriculture competitions at the AFBF Annual Convention in January in New Orleans. They will compete against young farmers and ranchers from across the country.

AgVenture McKillip welcomes Sharrett as yield specialist

WABASH, Ind. — Indiana-based AgVenture McKillip Seeds Co. continues to grow. The independently owned and operated regional seed company has welcomed Cory Sharrett of Mount Summit to serve as an AgVenture yield specialist for east-central Indiana.

Farming and seed always attracted Sharrett, who remembers spending his younger years watching his grandpa and uncle farm. For the past few years, he has worked in the ag retail industry in the west side of the state.

Sharrett was born and raised in Mount Summit, along with two brothers by his mom, a schoolteacher, and his father, who also works in the farming industry. After graduating from high school, he went on to attend Purdue University, earning degrees in agricultural economics and agronomy.

Four take top honors in Indiana ‘Make It With Wool’ contest

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Four Hoosiers took first place at the Indiana state “Make It With Wool” competition. The state contest is sponsored by the Indiana Sheep Assoc. and affiliated with the National “Make it With Wool” sewing competition.

The contest showcases and promotes the beauty and versatility of wool fabrics, yarns and fibers and encourages personal creativity in sewing, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and other needlework arts. All contestants must select, construct and model their own garment(s) made from more than 60 percent wool content.

The state winners by age division were:

•Pre-Teen Division: Katherine Jackson of Martinsville

•Junior Division: Sophee Dull of Zionsville

•Senior Division: Molly Grotjan of Zionsville

•Adult Division: Kathi Roman of Columbia City

The junior and senior category winners will represent the state of Indiana at the national contest at the American Sheep Industry annual convention in New Orleans in January 2019. The adult winner will compete nationally via video and photographs in early 2019. Adult winners will be announced at the same time.

“MAKE IT WITH WOOL” contest winners, from left, are Molly Grotjan and Sophee Dull of Zionsville, Kathi Roman of Columbia City and Katherine Jackson of Martinsville, Ind.

(Photo provided)

Vestaron appoints Cicora as senior VP Sales and Marketing

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Vestaron, a company dedicated to improving the safety, efficacy and sustainability of crop protection through migration from chemical pesticides to biologic peptides, announced the appointment of Ben Cicora as senior vice president of Sales and Marketing.

With more than 15 years of commercial experience across large and small agricultural companies, he will lead the build-out of Vestaron’s commercial team and commercialization of Vestaron’s growing portfolio of bioinsecticides.

Having overcome key challenges related to production, bioavailability and regulatory approval, Vestaron has recently brought to market SPEAR-T, its first bioinsecticide, for control of the top four major greenhouse pests – thrips, aphids, whiteflies and mites. Vestaron has also just announced U.S. EPA approval of its second product in the SPEAR family – SPEAR-Lep for control of lepidopteran pests for fruits, vegetables and other specialty field crops.