Nine people to watch in 2009: Vogel, Obama, Vilsack, Pacelle, Crossen, Smith, Galbraith, Clatterbuck, Pryor/Clark

If you don’t recognize these people by now, you will by the end of the year. Here are Farm and Dairy’s picks for Nine People to Watch in 2009.

Elder Vogel Jr.
Newly elected Pa. State Senator

We get excited whenever a “real” farmer runs for public office, so we were elated when Beaver County dairyman Elder Vogel Jr., 47, won election to the Pa. Senate last November. And Vogel is the real deal: former 4-H’er, director for the local Extension office, board member for the Pa. Beef Council and president of the Beaver-Lawrence Farm Bureau. The Republican, who has been a township supervisor since 1997, will be representing part of Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties. His committee assignments have not yet been announced.

Barack Obama
U.S. President-elect

It’s kind of a no-brainer to have Barack Obama on our list. Let’s face it: All eyes will be on the new U.S. president to see how he handles the economy, Iraq, climate change, you name it. He ran on “change” and now the American voters want to see if he can deliver. Quickly.

And, of course, all eyes will also be on Michelle Obama to see if she’ll be a Hillary or a Laura or a First Lady all her own.

Tom Vilsack
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture nominee

The next U.S. secretary of agriculture hails from the Corn Belt state of Iowa, where he served as a two-term governor. Prior to the election, he wrote in an op-ed piece that “Our greatest potential lies not in our nation’s capital but in America’s Heartland and the fields of our Great Plains and foothills of our Western states.” Now, can he sell that to the population bases on the coasts and inside the Beltway?

Look for the USDA to become more focused on technology, energy and food security. And also look for the influence of Obama’s energy czar, Carol Browner, Bill Clinton’s EPA chief, as well as Obama’s pick for the EPA, Lisa Jackson.

Hannah Crossen
National FFA Eastern Region Vice President

Hannah Crossen is the youngest person on our list, but don’t discount her ability to do big things. Crossen is leading 500,000 FFA members as the 2008-2009 eastern region vice president.

Crossen hails from the Hillsdale High School FFA chapter in Jeromesville, Ohio, and now attends Ohio State University. During her time as vice president, the young leader will travel more than 100,000 miles, visiting 40 states and Japan. Crossen will meet with leaders in business, government and education while providing leadership training for her peers, setting policies that will shape the future of FFA and promoting agricultural literacy.

It’s no small task to get to the top of an organization that boasts more than half a million members. As one of just six national FFA student leaders, Crossen has already demonstrated the dedication, interest and loyalty that makes a leader worth his or her title.

Rick Smith
Dairy Farmers of America President and CEO

Rick Smith has been at the head of Dairy Farmers of America since 2006. After the co-op uncovered some shady financial deals among its former leaders in 2008, there’s no doubt that Smith is looking ahead to a brighter and more pleasant 2009.

Even though the co-op and the former leaders had to pay a $12 million fine, the investigation into DFA’s finances has been closed. That should pave the way to a better year and an improved reputation.

We are curious to see where DFA will go in 2009 and we’re looking to Smith and other current leaders to set the tone for the new year.

Trevor Clatterbuck
Fresh Fork Market CEO

Once you’ve met Trevor Clatterbuck, it’s hard to forget his passion for direct farm marketing. A 2008 graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Clatterbuck is at the head of a new Cleveland-based business called Fresh Fork Market. Fresh Fork provides a direct link between produce farmers and restaurants looking for local food.

Clatterbuck and several of his college classmates developed the concept for Fresh Fork and the summer of 2008 marked their first year in business. They worked with about 40 Cleveland-area restaurants and 25 suppliers.

We encountered these young entrepreneurs at Farm Science Review in September and it seemed like they were on the road to success. We think the men behind Fresh Fork Market will have an important place in northeast Ohio agriculture.

Terrelle Pryor and Daryll Clark
Ohio State and Penn State quarterbacks

Ohio State and Penn State college football fans will follow closely the play of two quarterbacks who crossed state lines to lead their teams to BCS bowl appearances in 2008.

Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette, Pa.) and Penn State’s Daryll Clark (Youngstown, Ohio) are expected to lead their teams to the top of the Big Ten and into the national title picture again in 2009.

Pryor, the first freshman since Art Schlichter to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes, led OSU to the Fiesta Bowl in 2008. Pryor will be a sophomore at Ohio State next fall.

In his first season as the starter, Clark propelled the Nittany Lions to a co-Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Clark is expected to return to PSU for his senior season.

Wayne Pacelle
Humane Society of the United States President and CEO

Pacelle and his workhorse staff at the Humane Society of the United States led California voters to ban gestation and veal crates and hen cages in November, adding another notch to the society’s list of more than 15 successful ballot initiatives and causes that include such topics as horse slaughter, downed animals, trapping, cockfighting and puppy mills.

Pacelle and the HSUS are backed by some 10 million members and assets of more than $200 million, so it’s clear their voices are heard — loudly — by the American public. What’s of concern, though, is the appearance of a lack of science-based reasoning on topics like banning gestation crates and hen cages. One must wonder what state and what segment of animal agriculture may be on the HSUS radar for the coming year.

Arlan Galbraith
Owner of the bankrupt Pigeon King International

Galbraith is supposed to be in the hot seat during 2009 as creditors from his now-defunct Pigeon King International come calling for their share of at least $23.5 million owed them for pigeon breeding contracts, barn rentals and trade contracts.

Galbraith declared his company bankrupt in June 2008, leaving 168 Canadian and 277 U.S. breeders high and dry with millions of pigeons, no feed, and no market.

Canadian media reports personal bankruptcy proceedings against Galbraith will begin in March, though the man is fighting the allegations.

Police have yet to charge Galbraith.

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