OMAHA (DTN) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has some big names in agriculture and GOP politics on his agricultural and rural advisory committee to generate ideas for boosting the farm economy and rural America.
The 64-person committee announced by the campaign on Tuesday has five current members of Congress, including the chairmen of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees; as well as eight current or former governors; nine current or former state agriculture secretaries; and three former USDA secretaries or deputies, including former Secretary of Agriculture John Block, who served under President Ronald Reagan.
The committee also includes a wide range of farmers who have served as leaders in their respective statehouses or in various agricultural organizations.
"The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities," Trump said in a news release. "Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I'm very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House."
Members of the committee stretch from Maine to California, but the core of the group represent states in the Midwest and Plains that reliably vote Republican in the presidential race. Still, at least some of the committee members come from key battleground states such as Iowa.
The effort is chaired by a Nebraska cattle producer and farmer, Charles Herbster, who befriended Trump a decade ago and is president and CEO of the Conklin Company and Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City, Nebraska. Herbster could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. At the Republican National Convention last month, Herbster told a group of ag supporters that Trump understands that food security is national security. Herbster also highlighted that Trump will immediately push to eliminate the estate tax, which is part of Trump's tax plan released last week. Herbster also said Trump understands "we have to revitalize rural America," and will bring "common sense" to land management in the Western states.
Among those on the committee is Los Angeles-area farmer A.G. Kawamura, who served as California's agriculture secretary under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. While Trump has dismissed the risks associated with climate change, Kawamura has served on multiple policy groups working on climate-smart agriculture initiatives. In a phone interview Tuesday, Kawamura said he has been a Republican all his life and always wants to be involved in helping shape policy.
"When given a chance in being able to participate in discussions about policy, I've always taken that as a great opportunity and something I would want to do rather than staying on the sidelines and complaining at the coffee shop," Kawamura said.
Kawamura said the committee has had several phone calls to learn about each other and their concerns about the direction of agriculture.
"I think all of us to a man are alarmed about how much under attack agriculture seems to be these days from so many different angles," he said. "I've never seen agriculture under so much attack at a time when we've never been more progressive and sustainable."
Kawamura said farmers face more burdens from regulatory overreach. He cited problems with water policy in California as one example. He also pointed to challenges with having access to new products and tools because of the regulatory environment that affects both conventional and organic farmers.
Trump has campaigned heavily to renegotiate trade agreements largely supported by agriculture, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Kawamura defended Trump's stance, saying trade deals have often been negotiated from a stance of protecting against losses rather than seeking gains.
"I don't know if he is so much against a trade agreement as opposed to wondering if there is a better trade agreement to be had," Kawamura said. "What has hurt agriculture for so many years is you want to negotiate to get more in every category area, and our hope is when you reexamine what's possible in a world that's changing, then you want to be optimistic that maybe indeed there is a better deal that can be hammered out. Maybe there is just a leverage that we didn't have previously."
The committee expects to put out some policy recommendations in the near future to Trump and the rest of the campaign.
The Trump campaign stated the committee "will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation's agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities. Mr. Trump understands the critical role our nation's agricultural community plays in feeding not only our country, but the world, and how important these Americans are to powering our nation's economy."
The Clinton campaign has not released details on any comparable advisory committee, though there were similar discussions about such groups at the Democratic National Convention.
The other committee members include:
-- Sam Clovis, national chief policy adviser 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 of agriculture for Georgia
-- John Block, former secretary of USDA
-- 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, Texas congressman and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
-- Jack Dalrymple, governor of North Dakota
-- Dennis Daugaard, governor of South Dakota
-- Rodney Davis, congressman from Illinois; House Agriculture committee and chair of Subcommittee on Biotechnology
-- Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma
-- Eddie Fields, senator, Oklahoma; chair of Senate Ag and Rural Development
-- Steve Foglesong, former president of 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 of 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 and 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 for Arizona; farmer and rancher Arizona
-- 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, Nebraska state senator; national chair of Council of State Governments
-- Ted McKinney, former director of global corp. 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 of Missouri Senate Ag Committee
-- Casey Murdock, state senator, Oklahoma
-- Tom Nassif, president Western Growers; former ambassador
-- Garry Niemeyer, former president National Corn Growers
-- Bill Northey, secretary of agriculture, Iowa
-- Sonny Perdue, former governor 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 from South Dakota; House Majority Leader and Sen. Majority Whip; chair Senate Ag Committee
-- Pete Ricketts, governor of Nebraska
-- Pat Roberts, U.S. senator from Kansas and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
-- 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 Attorney General Agriculture Committee and is married to a soybean producer
-- David Spears, Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Dole ag adviser; 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, chair; farmer; agriculture advocate
-- Kip Tom, CEO, Tom Farms LLC -- largest agribusiness farm operator in Indiana; operates farms in South America
-- Johnny Trotter, CEO of BarG -- 125,000 feedlot operation and farms 10,0000 acres in Texas
-- Steve Wellman, former president of the American Soybean Association
-- Walt Whitcomb, ag commissioner, Maine
-- John Wilkinson, chairman, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Georgia State Senate
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN
© Copyright 2016 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.