The Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association board has named former congressional staffer Brad Griff the group’s new executive director.

He is succeeds Mark Duffin, who held the post since 1991 and plans to retire Sept. 30.

Griff, 32, previously worked for U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who ran in the 2018 Idaho Republican gubernatorial primary and did not seek re-election to Congress.

For about two years, Griff worked for Labrador as Washington, D.C., legislative assistant before serving as Labrador’s Boise-area regional director from March 2015 through December 2018. He also worked for Sen. Mike Crapo and for Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

Griff grew up on a third-generation family farm near Hollister, Idaho, south of Twin Falls. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Idaho in 2009.

“Agriculture was something I was born into and politics was something I learned,” he said. Leading the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association “is really a fusion of my two passions. I am really excited to be on board here and working for farmers. It feels like I am working for my family again.”

The approximately 540-member group advocates for sugar beet growers in the state.

“We have worked with Brad for a number of years in his capacity in Congressman Labrador’s office handling agricultural affairs,” Duffin said. “Several of our board members are well-acquainted with him and have enjoyed working with him in that capacity.”

Duffin said the board liked Griff’s knowledge of Idaho agriculture and national issues, including the recently updated farm bill that renewed the U.S. sugar policy.

“We determined he would be a great fit for what we were looking for,” said board President Randall Grant, a sugar beet grower in Twin Falls. He said Griff is well-suited to work with growers, and a range of policy issues whether they impact sugar specifically or Idaho agriculture in general.

Griff, a Leadership Idaho Agriculture graduate, said major issues for the sugar beet industry include the U.S. sugar policy — debated each time Congress considers reauthorizing the farm bill — biotechnology and transportation.

“We transport about 7 million tons of sugar beets in southern Idaho, and it’s vital that we have policies that keep our growers profitable,” he said.

Griff launched website “The goal is to help us tell our story. A lot of people don’t know what a sugar beet is because they don’t buy it at the grocery store,” he said.

He and Duffin will work together until Duffin retires.

Griff lives in Boise, where the association is based, with his wife and their young son.

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