Delta Native Named to D.C. Post

Martha Scott Poindexter to be U.S. Dairy Council COO

By Jack Criss

Having just served as Staff Director for U.S. Arkansas Senator John Boozman, Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Martha Scott Poindexter will now take on the role of Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council on July 8. She had served with Boozman since November and had also held the same Staff Director position for eight years under Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA-R). Poindexter is the first female to lead both the agriculture and intelligence committees in the Senate, also having served as Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Select Subcommittee on Intelligence.

The Morgan City native, raised on  a cotton, rice and soybean farm, (who now lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband Robert Guenther, a prominent lobbyist) attended Mississippi State University, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. “I had wanted to approach Senator Thad Cochran about an interview for a job I had heard about,” she recalls, “and one day in 1990 I actually saw him walking on the street in Jackson. We stopped to talk, because he knew my Uncle Will Green Poindexter—who had served in the State legislature—and told me to call his Chief of Staff at the time, Bill LaForge, who later became the president of Delta State University. Two weeks later, Bill hired me to work in Cochran’s personal office. The 1990 Farm Bill was being written and as a nutrition major I was brought on to help Dr. Mark Keenum (currently serving as President of Mississippi State) who was working in the office at the time.”

After returning to school for a time, and some private industry work (including lobby work with Macon Edwards from Lula, MS), Poindexter was called upon again in 1996 to assist on that year’s Freedom To Farm Bill, this time on the House side with Congressman Saxby Chambliss. 

Poindexter’s list of accomplishments, accolades and work on major projects are many and extensive. “I’m most proud, however, of working on  to get the 2008 Farm Bill passed and Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act legislation that I helped get passed in 2010,” she says. “Also, helping to negotiate the Growing Climate Solutions Act while working with Senator Boozman is huge, a Democratic bill that we brought back to the middle by garnering Republican support.  The bill passed on June 24th with overwhelming bipartisan support 92 -8.”

From 2011 to 2014, Poindexter was Minority Staff Director on the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which allowed her to travel all over the world, including Afghanistan and other areas in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Southeast Asia all with the highest intelligence clearing. “That was a tough but challenging and enjoyable transition for me,” says Poindexter. “This was during Benghazi and Edward Snowden (who I believe is a traitor by the way)—it was an incredible experience.”

Poindexter returned to the private sector, becoming the Vice President, Global Government and Industry Affairs for Bunge’s D.C. office, a major exporter of grain and food ingredients. She worked there from 2014 to 2020, took some time off and then returned to ag/government work with Senator Boozman.

“I love to manage people and wanted to get away from lobbying and focus more on strategy,” says Poindexter, “so my new position with the U.S. Dairy Export Council is one I’m really looking forward to starting. And politics has gotten so vitriolic these days—it has not  always been that way. Sometimes, even as a Republican, I long for the days of Bill Clinton again!” laughs Poindexter.