WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cassie Bladow has worked in the nation’s capital for since 2009, but in a sense has always worked for farmers.

Bladow recently left the post as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and on May 4 took a new position as president of the U.S. Beet Sugar Association, a group that includes the U.S. beet companies, all of which are farmer-owned cooperatives.

Bladow says the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the key issues affecting all of agriculture. She says keeping sugar on the shelf and keeping workers safe are key issues.

Bladow holds a management communications degree from North Dakota State University. “I knew I wanted to work in agriculture; I wanted to work for a commodity.”

She went to Washington in 2009 and took a job with the Florida, Texas and Hawaii Sugar Cane Growers. She married Shaun Bladow, a college sweetheart who came from Wahpeton, N.D. Shaun went to Washington as an accountant.

In 2011, Cassie went to Hoeven’s staff as a legislative correspondent, and shifted to legislative aide roles in 2012 to 2014, during the farm bill negotiations. In 2015, she went to the U.S. Beet Sugar Association as vice president. She spent three years before returning to Hoeven’s office as chief of staff.

Bladow’s family continues to farm near the town of Warren in northwest Minnesota and still raises sugar beets. Her grandparents, parents, a brother, uncle and cousin all farm in cooperation.

Bladow remembers her growing up years were always involving agriculture. At age 6, she was mowing lawn and cleaning horse stalls. At age 10, she was helping back up farm trucks to augers and leveled gravel where the trucks would come in. As soon as she got a driver's license, she was driving grain carts.

In addition to starting her U.S. Beet Sugar Association job, Cassie and Shaun are expecting their first child at the end of the month. “It’s going to be a busy May,” she says.