Today’s quick hits, Dec. 23, 2020

USDA names new NIFA director: Carrie Castile, who formerly worked in the USDA rural development and farm program agencies, will begin work on Jan. 4 as the director of the grant-making National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which was moved to Kansas City from Washington in 2019. (USDA)

Ag leader Rominger dies: Fourth-generation California farmer Richard Rominger, who was deputy agriculture secretary during the Clinton era and also served as state agriculture director, has died at age 93. (Woodland Daily Democrat)

Loeffler touts rural roots in Senate campaign: Appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, cites her childhood on an Illinois farm but “appears to be a traditional business-oriented Republican” and boasts of voting with President Trump 100 percent of the time. (New York Times)

Hemp is hard: Midwestern hemp farmers face daunting obstacles, from the sheer amount of manual labor required to grow the crop to the challenge of keeping their hemp below the THC limit when it’s harvested. (Harvest Public Media)

Vilsack advanced food safety: As agriculture secretary under President Obama, Tom Vilsack had a hand in food safety accomplishments that included pathogen reduction standards for poultry and prohibiting the “big six” strains of E. coli from beef products. (Food Safety News)