Ken Barbic, formerly of Western Growers, has joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ( File photo )

Ken Barbic, former senior director of federal governmental affairs for Western Growers, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s senior director of federal governmental affairs.

Barbic joined Western Growers in 2009. Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, said Barbic will be missed at the organization, where he worked on issues that include immigration reform, tax reform, and opening international markets for U.S. fruits and vegetables.

“Ken has played a crucial role in moving the needle forward to advance the sustainability of the specialty crop industry, and his extensive legislative and industry experience will be a true asset to USDA,” Nassif said in a news release.

Barbic has served on the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. Before joining Western Growers in 2009, he was deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for Congressional affairs from 2007-09, working on labor and environment policy, World Trade Organization disputes and negotiations, and Free Trade Agreements, according to the release.