⋅ BY DEBORAH WILLENBORG ⋅
Earlier this year, USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward announced she would retire after 18 years at USA Rice, 16 of them in her current role, and almost four decades advocating for U.S. agriculture and forestry in Washington, DC, and around the world.
Peter Bachmann, USA Rice vice president of policy & government affairs since 2019, was named her successor by the Board of Directors.
Prior to joining USA Rice, Ward spent 20 years directing forest and wood industry trade policy and the global forestry agenda, including through the tumultuous Third Ministerial of the World Trade Organization that largely targeted that industry.
She is past chair of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council that represents the interests of more than 80 commodity organizations who grow and export U.S. agricultural products; she is a past vice chair of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an independent non-governmental organization working to ensure healthy marine and aquatic ecosystems, and a thriving, responsible seafood economy; and is a member of the CEO Agriculture Council that coordinates alignment on issues impacting production agriculture.
“I have a deep passion to serve people I know are the true stewards of our planet,” Ward said. “From forests to farms and fisheries, it has been my great honor to spend my professional life promoting and defending the producers’ way of life. I have traveled all over this country and the world advocating for the rice industry and I am so very grateful for the partnership and collaboration I have had with farmers, millers, merchants, and our many end users and rice customers. I am extremely proud of our work to advance the sustainability profile of the rice industry and at the same time ensure a viable safety net for future generations of rice farmers.”
Bachmann, a native of Maryland and graduate of Virginia Tech, worked at USA Rice on domestic farm policy issues from 2015 to 2017 when he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a senior advisor to Secretary Sonny Perdue. There, he helped shepherd USDA through the 2018 Farm Bill process, played a crucial role in the development and implementation of the 2018 and 2019 trade mitigation packages, and was a strong advocate for U.S. ag exports. When he first returned to USA Rice, he directed trade policy and joined Ward’s leadership team.
“I speak for the entire industry when I say we are eternally grateful for the guidance, leadership, and dedication of Betsy Ward,” said Kirk Satterfield, a Mississippi rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Board of Directors. “Her accomplishments are too many to list, but one of the most important things Betsy did for us was to build a strong organization with skilled and smart leaders outside and in, who could take the reins from her when she decided it was time to retire. We have full confidence that Peter will continue to build on Betsy’s legacy.”
Bachmann officially takes over the role Nov. 15 and Ward will remain on as an advisor through mid-December. A retirement celebration is planned for Dec. 8, 2023, at the end of the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Indian Wells, California.