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The chair of the board of directors for the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) says they felt "very lucky" to have Manitoba Senator JoAnne Buth apply for the job of CEO for Cigi.

The former president of the Canola Council of Canada is resigning her Senate seat 15 years before her mandatory retirement age to replace Earl Geddes, as the former Pilot Mound-area farmer is retiring from Cigi in September.

Cigi chair Murdoch Mackay says they received numerous applications for the position.

"We considered ourselves very lucky to see JoAnne's name and have the opportunity to interview her. We're really pleased that she wanted to do this job and she's excited about being the CEO at Cigi, and continuing the growth and transition that Earl started," says Mackay.

He notes Cigi is evolving as it adapts to the post-wheat board environment.

"Earl and his management team have done a great job, working with the producers, the grain companies and end-use customers. Now JoAnne will be coming on and continuing that," says Mackay.

Buth herself says she's returning to her roots.

"This opportunity represents coming home to me as I come back to work in an industry that is so critical to Canada and to Canada’s reputation internationally. Cigi is a gem in the agriculture industry and I am very excited to be leading an organization that is in a growth phase," she said in a statement announcing her hiring.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is also welcoming her hiring.

"Having spent most of her professional life in agriculture, Ms. Buth is well-known to the industry as an advocate for agricultural success in her native Manitoba, across Canada and around the world," said Ritz on Wednesday. "She brings with her an extensive knowledge of the sector and a deep passion for its continued prosperity. I look forward to working with Ms. Buth in our mutual goal of continuing to enhance Canada’s reputation as a viable and key player in today’s increasingly competitive grains marketplace."

He also thanked Geddes for his time leading Cigi.

"Since 2009, Mr. Geddes’ leadership has been instrumental in positioning the organization to help farmers and industry grow opportunities for Canadian field crops. On behalf of the sector, I wish to thank Earl for his significant contributions, and wish him all the best in his upcoming retirement," said the minister.

Buth's first official day on the job will be August 11th. Geddes will be retiring on September 8th.

Cigi works to promote Canadian field crops by providing expertise and technical support to customers. Until the end of the single desk in 2012, the Canadian Wheat Board was one of Cigi's main funders. Geddes has overseen the transition to a funding model that sees financial support come from farmers, the federal government and industry partners.

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