Renville, Minn.-based Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative has hired Jeffrey Rustvang to be the vice president of government affairs.

David Bieging, SMBSC’s Washington, D.C. liaison, will be retiring in December 2021 after 21 years with the cooperative. Rustvang and Bieging will work together on the transition into Bieging’s retirement.

“SMBCS is deeply grateful and proud of Dave’s many years of SMBSC representation in Washington, D.C.”, the co-op said in a statement noting Bieging's history of guiding SMBSC through "challenging times" including the disaster assistance implemented after the 2019 crop year. “He has played a vital role in the success of U.S. Sugar policy over the last 20-plus years."

“We are very pleased and excited to have Jeff join our team. His knowledge and experience will be invaluable to serve as a voice for the 500+ SMBSC farm families to state and federal lawmakers,” said Steven Domm, SMBSC President and CEO.

A native of Fargo, N.D., Rustvang attended North Dakota State University, earning a bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism management with a minor in business. Upon graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C., to serve on the agriculture policy team for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. While working for Hoeven, Rustvang learned about the sugar industry while working on the 2014 Farm Bill.

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Rustvang gained further political experience while serving as the government affairs manager for the U.S. Beet Sugar Association in Washington, D.C. USBSA's purposes include the collection and distribution of sugar industry information, working with Congress and federal agency officials, and promoting the beet sugar industry in the United States. Rustvang advocated for U.S. Sugar policy in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Rustvang will join SMBSC from the office of Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., where he served as the state director since 2019. He said he appreciates the past work of Bieging and is excited to take over for him.

“I have been fortunate to work with Dave over the last eight years and couldn’t imagine a better person to learn from regarding sugar policy and the inner workings of Washington," Rustvang said. "There is no doubt our growers and our cooperative are in a better place today because of the hard work of Dave Bieging. Dave leaves big shoes to fill, but I am excited for the opportunity to ensure that SMBSC has a strong, respected voice in Washington, and St. Paul just as we had with Dave Bieging.”