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Charlie O'Brien joins the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) as its new VP-Agricultural Services. O'Brien will oversee AEM's expansion of programs and activities for its agriculture-related members, in areas including technical and safety, market statistics, global public policy and trade shows.

Prior to joining AEM, he served as Pres and CEO of FPC Financial as well as Farm Plan & AgLine (Canada), Product Mgr and Sls Mgr for John Deere Credit.

Kenna Rathai joins the American Agricultural Editors' Association (AAEA) as Associate Dir.

"Kenna's 15 years in ag communications gives her just the type of experience needed to manage her association duties," says Den Gardner, AAEA Exec Dir.

USDA announces the results of the Beef Checkoff Survey, which was conducted by the Gallup Organization among 8,002 beef, dairy, and veal producers nationwide.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed either strongly approved or somewhat approved of the program.

Sixty-six percent of those surveyed would strongly approve or somewhat approve of the Cattleman's Beef Board contracting directly "with any entity, including businesses, university researchers, advertising and marketing agencies, and other consultants." Less than 25% would disapproved of this move.

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed would strongly approved or somewhat approve of "voting periodically on the continuation of the Beef Checkoff Program."

The Farm Foundation announces it will host a "Biofuels, Food and Feed Tradeoffs Conference" in April in St. Louis, MO. The conference will examine the rapid growth of the industry generating demand for corn and soybeans. It will also cover the explosion of the biofuels market demand which raises concerns about the use of natural resources and impacts on global markets for food grains and feed grains.

For more information, go to

The U.S. Grains Council names Dan Keefe as Mgr of International Operations for the Council's Distiller Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) Promotion Programs.

His background includes specialty grain trading, marketing identity-preserved commodities, an extensive commercial export trade background in wet milling products and marketing consulting.

CropLife America Foundation (CLF) names Allan Noe as VP-Development where he will be pursuing grants and financial support from governments and private sector sources for foundation activities.

Noe will also maintain CLF's relationships with conservation organizations.

Also it names Jeffrey L. Case as Govt Affairs Leader where he will lead a team responsible for federal and state industry issues. Case joins CLA from Syngenta America, Inc.

The Celebrated Chefs Program names five leading chefs as spokespersons for the Pork Checkoff.

The chefs were selected for their culinary excellence, creativity and originality in their menuing of pork.

The 2007 celebrated chefs are: Klaus Happel, Renaissance Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ; Michael Maddoz, Le Titi de Paris, Arlington Heights, IL; Dean Thomas, Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino, Lakeside, CA; Celina Tio, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, MO; and Frank Scibelli, Mama Ricotta's & Cantina, Charlotte, NC.

ASTA names Nikki Clifford as Assoc Dir-Meetings and Services. She joins ASTA from an association conference management firm and has a wide range of meeting, membership, conference and convention planning experience.

Clifford replaces Jason Laney who is appointed ASTA's Dir of Membership Services.

Wendell Knehans joins the American Soybean Association (ASA), St. Louis, MO, as Exec Dir of Member and Industry Relations.

He most recently was with Monsanto.

The Board of Directors of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) appoints Michele Vise-Brown to CEO.

Vise-Brown has been with NIAA since 2003 serving as Dir of Member Relations and Committee Operations.

Lou Malnassy joins Nat'l Corn Growers Assoc as a Sr Comms Specialist. His previous experience includes
agricultural communications including Osborn & Barr and Weber-ShandwickCommunications.

Twenty students pursuing careers in the beef industry have each been awarded a $1,500 scholarship provided by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. and the National Cattlemen's Foundation.

Each scholarship winner wrote a 750-word essay identifying key issues confronting the beef industry and suggesting possible ways of dealing with those issues.

The National 4-H Council has received a three-year, $525,000 grant from MetLife Foundation to launch
a new phase of the 4-H Afterschool Initiative.

The new phase will expand 4-H's work nationally and locally to improve the quality of the after-school program and also focus on civic engagement.

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