MOLINE, Ill. -- Deere & Company said today that J.B. Penn has agreed to head the company's new Office of the Chief Economist, with responsibility for analyzing global macro-economic, policy and trade developments to help the company achieve sustainable, strong business results.

The appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Penn had most recently served as the USDA's under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services. He has extensive international experience, having served on many foreign missions and task forces as well as conducting projects in numerous countries.

"Deere is fortunate to gain access to the experience and insight that Dr. Penn has gained in his career," said Charlie Stamp, vice president of worldwide public affairs at Deere & Company. "His in-depth knowledge of the world's economy strengthens Deere's ability to expand its business opportunities around the globe."

The company created the Office of the Chief Economist to help guide the company's policy development and corporate growth initiatives worldwide through the analysis of trends in economics, production, trade and governmental policies. The chief economist will apply his analyses to Deere's agricultural equipment business as well as the company's other core businesses of construction and forestry equipment, commercial and consumer equipment, and its credit operations.

Johann's statement about Penn

In a statement today about Penn's resignation, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said:

"Today I have accepted the resignation of Dr. J.B. Penn, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, who has resigned effective the end of August to return to the private sector.

"J.B. Penn has served USDA in this post since May of 2001. He has overseen the activities of the Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service and Risk Management Agency, as well as our extensive participation in international activities, including the WTO Doha Round negotiations and other trade agreements.

"J.B. Penn's experience and leadership, from his diligent actions to assure timely implementation of the 2002 Farm Bill's provisions that assist domestic producers to his steadfast efforts to reduce trade barriers and increase our agricultural exports, have worked to improve the economic outlook for America's farmers and ranchers. His vision for international trade and development on behalf of our producers and agribusinesses is recognized around the world, and I have valued his counsel and determination through the many months of tough negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda. I thank him for this tremendous service. He will be missed at USDA, and we wish him the best."

Extensive private-sector career before USDA

Before his appointment to USDA, Penn had an extensive career in the private sector. Most recently, he was senior vice president and manager of Sparks Companies Inc.'s Washington office for more than a dozen years. Prior to joining Sparks, he was president of Economic Perspectives Inc. Penn's government experience includes service as deputy administrator for economics of the USDA's then Economics and Statistics Service and as senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Deere & Company is the world's leading manufacturer of agricultural and forestry equipment, a major manufacturer of construction equipment, and a leading supplier of equipment used in lawn, grounds and turf care.

SOURCE: Deere & Company via PR Newswire; USDA news release.