Branstad, Rastetter, Northey Named to Trump Ag Committee

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Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

A week after news broke that Gov. Terry Branstad and his longtime political ally, Iowa agribusiness executive Bruce Rastetter, were about to be named as economic policy advisers for the Donald Trump campaign, the campaign has announced they will serve as advisory board members on its agricultural advisory committee.

Also named to the ag committee are Bill Northey, the state’s agriculture secretary; Sam Clovis, a Morningside College economics professor and Trump state co-chair who earlier this year told Republicans not on board with the candidate to “just shut the hell up”; Ron Heck, an Iowa farmer and former president of the American Soybean Association; and Annette Sweeney, former chair of the Iowa House’s ag committee.

They joined about 60 others on Trump’s ag committee, including Branstad ally and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and also Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

“The men and women on the committee will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities,” the Trump campaign said in a press release Tuesday. “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.”

Rastetter is also reportedly a leading contender for secretary of agriculture in a would-be President Trump’s cabinet. Last week, in an interview with NJ.com‘s Claude Brodesser-Akner, billionaire seed tycoon Harry Stine — Iowa’s richest man — weighed in on Rastetter’s aspirations. Stine said he thought Rastetter would be “great” as ag secretary but was unhappy that he was reportedly pursuing the position through Trump.

“I think it’s unfortunate people like Branstad and him [Rastetter] are supporting Trump,” he told Brodesser-Akner. “I think a lot of things (Trump) says, he knows are crazy, and he knows better. Or I hope, anyway.”

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.