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Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:00 am

Kip Tom nominated for UN ag ambassador

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Kosciusko County farmer Kip Tom to be ambassador of agriculture to the United Nations.

Tom's title would be U.S. Representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture. His nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.

The State Department job is ambassador to three U.N. agencies based in Rome: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program.

The White House stated in a news release announcing Tom's nomination that his agribusiness experience includes work in South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Tom said in an email that he looks “forward to representing the administration and our country” if confirmed as agriculture ambassador. He said the three U.N. agencies he would be involved with are “working to improve lives for those in need globally.”

President Ronald Reagan created the ambassador-level position in 1983. Ambassadors to date have included former U.S. representative Millicent Fenwick of New Jersey; former representative, senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern of South Dakota; and former Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez. The position is currently vacant.

Tom is chief executive officer of Leesburg-based Tom Farms, which grows corn and soybeans in seven northern Indiana counties. He finished a close second in the 2016 Republican primary election for northeast Indiana's seat in the U.S. House, losing to eventual Rep. Jim Banks.

Tom was a member of Trump's Agriculture Advisory Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he was believed to have been among candidates Trump considered for secretary of Agriculture.

In a speech in Indianapolis last September, Trump singled out Tom, who was in the audience, when discussing his plan for income tax cuts that would later be approved by Congress. Trump said Tom was worried about whether the estate tax would jeopardize his family's business.