The U.S. Sweet Potato Council is moving from Columbia, S.C., and is getting a new leader.

“I’m 75, and it’s time to retire,” said Charles Walker, who stepped down as executive secretary Feb. 10.

The council’s board of directors is searching for a permanent successor. Meanwhile, Jamie Earp, a partner in Earp Farms, Houlka, Miss., and president of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council in Vardaman, is serving as interim executive secretary.

“Our main focus will remain on education, promotion and lobbying,” Earp said.

The council’s preference is to find a permanent leader from inside the sweet potato industry, but the search committee will consider a candidate from outside, Earp said.

“The board of directors of the USSPC hopes to have the position filled by July 1,” said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Benson. The North Carolina organization is working “closely” with the council until its new leader is in place, she said.

She said the council will move from Columbia to another location that has yet to be determined.

Earp said the council’s goals won’t change.

“Our activities are to revamp our website, continue participation in the Heart Check-Mark Program and Produce for Better Health Foundation and planning our lobbying trip to (Washington) D.C. in June.