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January 13, 2022

Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place has been appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Minnesota office. Place has been with the MDA since 2012, serving in multiple capacities. In her new post she will oversee operations and agriculture policy implementation in Minnesota.

“I want to thank Whitney for her decade of service here at the MDA and for her dedication to agriculture,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “She has been a valuable member of our team and I look forward to continuing to work with her at the FSA on issues and policies affecting farmers in our state.”

Petersen also announced two new appointments at the MDA. Former MDA Government Relations Director Peder Kjeseth will now serve as an Assistant Commissioner overseeing the agency’s Plant Protection, Pesticide and Fertilizer Management, and Laboratory Services divisions. Prior to coming to the MDA in 2019, Kjeseth worked for eight years on staff for Governor Tim Walz in both his prior congressional and current gubernatorial offices.

Michelle Medina has been hired as the MDA’s Government Relations Director. Medina spent more than six years working for the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) organization in several capacities, most recently as Director of Programming. Medina holds degrees in Agricultural Education Leadership and Communication and Spanish Studies from the University of Minnesota and is a graduate of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) program.

The appointments were effective immediately.


Media Contact
Margaret Hart, MDA Communications