Business Briefs

FROM THE JULY ISSUE: U.S. Grains Council's new president and CEO, new CFO at Green Plains, and former Iowa governor Vilsack honored.
By Ethanol Producer Magazine | June 14, 2019

LeGrand named US Grains Council president and CEO
The U.S. Grains Council’s board of directors has named Ryan LeGrand, USGC director in Mexico, as its next president and CEO.

“We are very pleased to announce the selection of Ryan LeGrand as the council’s new president and CEO,” said USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein. “His steadfast and level-headed leadership comes at a critical time amid challenges around the world for U.S. trade and a rapidly growing program of council activities in markets that show potential for new demand.”

LeGrand joined USGC in Mexico in 2015 and has served as the director of the Mexico City office since 2016. In this capacity, he has overseen the expansion of USGC’s programming in that country, including promotion of ethanol, and worked to steady relations with the U.S. and Mexican feed and livestock industries during the negotiations of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“I am honored to have been selected for this role at the council and look forward to expanding trade opportunities for the grain, ethanol and related products we promote around the world,” LeGrand said. “The American farmer works extremely hard each year to produce quality crops, and I look forward to working with our members and staff to continue our mission of opening, maintaining and defending foreign markets.”

During his tenure with USGC in Mexico, LeGrand has also led efforts for U.S. grains including increasing U.S. DDGS demand, cultivating both large and small craft brewers to purchase more U.S. barley and encouraging sorghum use by Mexican livestock producers.

LeGrand holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in international business.

Green Plains appoints Simpkins chief financial officer
Green Plains Inc. has promoted Patrich Simpkins, chief development officer, to chief financial officer of Green Plains and Green Plains Partners LP. Past CFO John Neppl has been appointed executive vice president and CFO of Bunge Ltd.

“John has been instrumental in driving the success of our portfolio optimization plan to date, which was launched a year ago,” said Todd Becker, Green Plains president and CEO. “We appreciate John’s many contributions to Green Plains during his tenure and we wish him great success in his new position.”

Neppl said, “Working at Green Plains has been a great experience for me and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the company. There is a strong, dedicated management team in place to complete the portfolio optimization plan and position the company for the future.”

Simpkins has served as chief development officer since October 2014, previously serving as chief risk officer from October 2014 through August 2016, and as executive vice president of finance and treasurer from May 2012 to October 2014. Before Green Plains, Simpkins held a number of senior management positions with SensorLogic Inc., TXU Corp., Duke Energy Corp. and Louis Dreyfus Energy.

“Patrich has been a key member of the Green Plains management team, driving our strategic objectives for the last five years,” Becker said. “Patrich demonstrates significant leadership qualities and his experience and knowledge of the company will serve us well in his new role as our CFO.”

In addition, Paul Kolomaya, executive vice president of commodity and finance, has been promoted to chief accounting officer. Kolomaya had served as executive vice president of commodity and finance since February 2012. Before joining Green Plains in August 2008 as vice president of commodities and finance, Kolomaya was employed by ConAgra Foods Inc.

Vilsack receives 2019 George Washington Carver Award  
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization has awarded former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and former two-term Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack the 12th annual George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology. The award will be presented on July 10 during a plenary session at the 2019 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and AgTech in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” Vilsack said. “Every day there are scientists and researchers in the biobased industry helping to meet the twin challenge of adapting to and mitigating the consequences of a changing climate while also increasing our capacity to feed an ever-increasing world population in a safe and sustainable way.”

“Secretary Vilsack has been one of the strongest advocates in promoting America’s biobased economy,” said James Greenwood, BIO president and CEO. “From his time serving as governor of Iowa—America’s top ethanol producer and a leading state in biomass and renewable chemical production—to his leadership at USDA, Secretary Vilsack consistently championed policies that advanced industrial biotechnologies and grew America’s rural economy.”

The George Washington Carver award is sponsored by the Iowa Biotechnology Association. “Secretary Vilsack represents a leader who has tirelessly championed biotechnology, and truly embodies the characteristics of George Washington Carver,” said Jessica Hyland, executive director of the Iowa Biotechnology Association. “Through this award, we recognize his focus on ensuring biotechnology in its diverse forms can thrive. IowaBio is proud to have Secretary Vilsack receive this award. He has contributed so much to Iowa and to this country through his service and leadership. His impact on advancing biotechnology and recognizing its impact on rural economy is unmatched.”

As the longest serving cabinet appointee in President Barack Obama’s administration, serving as secretary of USDA from 2009-17, Vilsack championed the biobased economy as one of the four pillars that support our country’s rural economy.

As the two-term governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007, Vilsack was a strong supporter of the role of biotechnology for both food production and industrial processes. During his tenure, he was chair of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership and the Governors Ethanol Coalition as well as vice chair of the National Governors Association’s committee on Natural Resources, where he developed policies around farming and energy.

Vilsack currently serves as the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, where he provides strategic leadership and oversight of global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives.