WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has appointed A. Ellen Terpstra as deputy under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Michael W. Yost as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service, both effective immediately.

"I'm extremely pleased to have someone of Ellen's caliber and commitment assume this important post for the U.S. food and agriculture industry," said Johanns. "I'm looking forward to working with her in this new capacity, and I know America's farmers and ranchers will benefit from her expertise as we continue our efforts to level the global playing field for U.S. agricultural exports."

Terpstra has served as the administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service since March 2002. She fills a position left vacant by the resignation of James Butler late last year.

FAS is the agency that oversees and coordinates USDA's international activities. As administrator, Terpstra had a strong leadership role in expanding and maintaining international export opportunities for U.S. agriculture, supporting international economic development and trade capacity building and improving the global sanitary and phytosanitary system to facilitate agricultural trade.

Before joining USDA, Terpstra was president and chief executive officer of the USA Rice Federation from 1998 to 2002 and served as president of the U.S. Apple Association for seven years.

Terpstra's government experience has focused on international food and trade policy. She served as trade negotiator and policy coordinator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and as an agricultural policy analyst with the Congressional Research Service. She also has been a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome and has served on several national agricultural advisory committees.

Terpstra received a bachelor of science degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Yost takes Terpstra's place as head of FAS

Johanns also announced the appointment of Michael W. Yost to serve as administrator of FAS, succeeding Ellen Terpstra.

"Mike Yost has demonstrated broad expertise and managerial skills and will continue to make a great contribution to USDA in this new role," said Johanns. "I look forward to working with Mike as we continue to strengthen our capacity at USDA to manage the growing importance of international markets to American agriculture and the food sector."

Yost has served as the Farm Service Agency's associate administrator for programs since January 2004. In this position, he was responsible for supervising and administering the farm commodity, farm loan, conservation and disaster assistance programs.

Yost, a fourth generation farmer, came to USDA from a family farming operation in Minnesota. He previously served on the National Biodiesel Board and the USDA/Department of Energy Biomass Advisory Board. He also served as Chairman of the American Soybean Association and the American Oilseed Coalition and strongly promoted use of U.S. soybeans and soybean products worldwide and enhanced market opportunities for American oilseed growers.

A native of Murdock, Minn., Yost and his wife Sandra have two sons. He holds a bachelor of science degree in agriculture business administration from the University of Minnesota.

SOURCE: USDA news release.