Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated only three of the 64 members of Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee were directly involved in fruit and vegetable production. Actually, there are four. In addition to the three Californians mentioned below, Brent Jackson of North Carolina should have been included. Although he was listed by the Trump Campaign only as a State Senator from North Carolina, Jackson and his wife Debbie, along with their oldest son, grow, pack and ship fresh fruits and vegetables. The first generation family operation emphasizes watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and strawberries. GrowingProduce.com regrets the omission.
Saying he understands the critical role our nation’s agricultural community plays in feeding not only the country, but the world, Donald Trump has announced his new Agricultural Advisory Committee.
“The formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of these individuals’ diverse skill sets and ideas that can improve the lives of those in agricultural communities,” said a campaign press release. “Mr. Trump has received widespread support from voters who understand he is the only candidate with the best interests of the agricultural community at the heart of his policies.”
Of the 60 named to the committee, only three are directly involved in fruits and vegetables, and all are from California: Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers; A.G. Kawamura, Strawberry Grower and Former Secretary, CA Dept. Food & Agriculture; and John Kautz, Winegrape Grower/Vintner, CEO Ironstone Vineyards.
According to the website, Politico, for Nassif the route to a seat on Trump’s agriculture committee began on the Manhattan billionaire’s private plane in late May. After a rally in Fresno, CA where Trump spoke about water shortages — a top issue for farmers facing a devastating drought — the candidate offered Nassif a ride to San Diego.
Nassif said he spent 15 to 20 minutes talking with Trump about the need to overhaul immigration laws in a way that protects farm workers already in the U.S., while ensuring employers can reliably hire new workers, since U.S. agribusinesses face major labor shortages. Nassif also argued that immigrants are not taking agricultural jobs from Americans because Americans don’t want them.
Trump said he understood the complexity of the issue, and asked Nassif to sit down with Stephen Miller, one of his policy advisers. After briefing Miller on Western Growers’ position on immigration reform, Nassif said he agreed to advise the campaign as a private individual, not as a representative of Western Growers.
“From my perspective, the reason to be on the advisory committee is so I can give advice and influence policy,” Nassif told Politico, adding that he hopes that’s Trump’s intention for the council.
Nassif, like most agriculture leaders, is a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which puts him at odds with the Republican nominee on one of the biggest issues in play this election cycle. It also puts him at odds with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who after initially supporting the TPP, backed off after getting pilloried on the issue during the primaries by Bernie Sanders.
Nasiff, who served as Ambassador to Morocco in 1985-88 under President Ronald Reagan, said he briefed Trump on the trade deal’s benefits for agriculture producers, who would gain expanded access to markets in Japan, Vietnam, and Malaysia, among others. The TPP is favored by many specialty crops organizations, including the United Fresh Produce Association.
While Trump made no promises, Nassif told Politico his selection of agricultural advisers with positions not entirely in sync with his own indicates Trump has a serious interest in the well-being of U.S. agriculture.
Here is a complete list of the 64 Advisory Board Members:
Charles Herbster – National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President
Sam Clovis – National Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President
Rebeckah Adcock – CropLife, Senior Director, Government Affairs
Robert Aderholt – Congressman from Alabama; Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture
Jay Armstrong – Kansas Wheat Commission; Chairman, Farm Foundation
Gary Black – Commissioner Agriculture, Georgia
John Block – Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Mike Brandenburg – State Legislator, North Dakota
Terry Branstad – Governor of Iowa
Sam Brownback – Governor of Kansas
Chuck Conner – CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Mike Conaway – House Agriculture Chairman
Jack Dalrymple – Governor of North Dakota
Dennis Daugaard – Governor of South Dakota
Rodney Davis – Congressman from Illinois; House Agriculture Committee and Subcommittee Chair of Bio Tech
Mary Fallin – Governor of Oklahoma
Eddie Fields – Senator, Oklahoma; Chair, Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee
Steve Foglesong – Former President National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Jim Gilmore – Former Governor of Virginia; Chairman of Report on Terrorism and Agro-Terrorism
Bob Goodale – Former CEO of Harris Teeter
Bob Goodlatte – Congressman, Virginia; Former Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
Mike Green – State Senator, Michigan; Appropriations Agriculture Chair; Senate Agriculture Committee Vice Chair
Helen Groves – Rancher; daughter of Robert Kleberg (King Ranch); Well known in Texas/ranching world
Ron Heck – Iowa farmer and Past President of the American Soybean Association
Dave Heineman – Former Governor of Nebraska
Hans Hunts – State Legislator, Wyoming; Wyoming House Ag Committee; Rancher
Cindy Hyde-Smith – Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi
Brent Jackson – State Senator, North Carolina
A.G. Kawamura – Former Secretary of Food & Agriculture, California
John Kautz – California wine producer; CEO Ironstone Vineyards
Charlotte Kelly – Tennessee cotton grower along with her husband (14,000 acres) plus operating a cotton gin processing 30,000 plus bales and a leader in the cotton industry
Mark Killian – Commissioner of Agriculture, Arizona; Farmer and rancher
Brian Klippenstein – Protect the Harvest
Tsosie Lewis – Former CEO of Navaho Nation’s Agricultural Products Industries
Forrest Lucas – CEO Lucas Oil; Protect the Harvest
Mike McCloskey – CEO Fair Oaks Farms, one of largest dairies in U.S.
Beau McCoy – State Senator, Nebraska; National Chair, Council of State Governments
Ted McKinney – Former Director of Global Corporate Affairs for Elanco Animal Health
Sid Miller – Commissioner of Agriculture, Texas
Jim Moseley – Former consultant on agriculture at EPA; Former Deputy Secretary of USDA
Brian Munzlinger – Chairman, Missouri Senate Ag Committee
Casey Murdock – State Senator, Oklahoma
Tom Nassif – President Western Growers; Former U.S. Ambassador
Garry Niemeyer – Former President National Corn Growers
Bill Northy – Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa
Sonny Perdue – Former Governaor of Georgia
Rick Perry – Former Governor of Texas
Ryan Quarles – Commissioner of Agriculture, Kentucky
Bruce Rastetter – Summit Ag Group of Alden, Iowa; Hosted first Republican Presidential debate
Jim Reese – Secretary of Agriculture for Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma
Larry Rhoden – Senator South Dakota; House Majority Leader and Senate Majority Whip; Chair, Senate Ag Committee
Pete Ricketts –Governor of Nebraska
Pat Roberts – U.S. Senator Kansas
Marcus Rust – CEO Rose Acre Farms- second largest egg producer in U.S.
Leslie Rutledge – Attorney General, Arkansas; Co-Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Agriculture Committee and is married to a soybean producer
David Spears – Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Agriculture Advisor to Sen. Bob Dole; Senior Vice President, Mid-Kansas Cooperative, Inc.
Dr. Mike Strain – Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana
Red Steagall – Official Cowboy Poet of Texas
Annette Sweeney – Former Iowa House Agriculture Committee Chair; Farmer; Agriculture Advocate
Kip Tom – CEO, Tom Farms LLC, the largest Agri-Business farm operator in Indiana; Operates farms in South America
Johnny Trotter – CEO of Bar-G, a 125,000 head feedlot operation, and farms 10,000 acres in Texas
Steve Wellman – Former President of the American Soybean Association
Walt Whitcomb – Agriculture Commissioner, Maine
John Wilkinson – Chairman, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, Georgia State Senate