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House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota announced the addition of new Committee staff members Wednesday.

Dr. Melinda Cep joins the Committee as Legislative and Policy Director. Cep returns to the Committee, where she served as a fellow during the 2008 Farm Bill. She most recently served as Senior Director on the U.S. Markets and Food Team at the WWF. Previously, Cep worked in multiple roles at USDA, including as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack, and she served as Policy and Appropriations Advisor to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. Cep holds a bachelor’s in Animal and Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech, and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Carlton Bridgeforth joins the Committee as Professional Staff. Bridgeforth comes to the Committee from the National Association of Conservation Districts. He is a fifth-generation producer and partner in his family farm in Tanner, Ala. He also served as a board member in the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. Previously, Bridgeforth worked as a compliance officer for Deutsche Bank in New York. He holds a bachelor’s in Finance from Morehouse College.

Jasmine Dickerson will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. Prior to joining the Committee, Dickerson was the Legislative Director for Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware. Dickerson also served as Senior Legislative Representative for Feeding America. A Cleveland native, Dickerson is a graduate of Trinity College in Washington, D.C.

Brandon Honeycutt will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. Honeycutt comes to the Committee from the office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta of California. Previously, he served in the Office of Congressional Relations at USDA under Secretary Tom Vilsack. Honeycutt hails from North Carolina, and holds a bachelor’s in Agricultural Business Management from North Carolina State University.

Félix Muñiz, Jr., joins the Committee as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry. Prior to joining the Committee, Muñiz was a legislative assistant to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Muñiz is an Ohio native and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History from Bowling Green State University.

Ashley Smith will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. Smith is formerly the Legislative Director for Congressman David Scott of Georgia, and previously worked as a legislative assistant with Florida Crystals. Smith is a native South Dakotan, and holds a degree in Political Science from the University of South Dakota.

In addition to Dickerson, Honeycutt, Muñiz and Smith, current staffer Mike Stranz will serve as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, and Katie Zenk becomes Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, as well as Economist for the Committee’s Majority staff.

Lyron Blum-Evitts will serve as the Committee’s Member Relations Coordinator. Blum-Evitts comes to the Committee from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee where she served as the DCCC’s policy director. Previously, she was Legislative Director in the office of Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois. A native Mainer, Blum-Evitts is a graduate of St. Lawrence University.

Mickeala Carter joins the Committee as Outreach Coordinator. Prior to joining the Committee, she served as Communications Director and Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Filemon Vela of Texas. Carter grew up in DeSoto, Texas, and holds a degree in agricultural leadership and development from Texas A&M University.

“These qualified and motivated subject matter experts will help us expand our service to Americans in all communities,” said Peterson. “They will also provide key guidance and support as our six subcommittees conduct their important work on food and farm issues in the months to come. I look forward to great things from the Committee with them on board.”