The Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered several nominations for ambassador on Thursday, including Indiana farmer Kip Tom, who has been nominated as Ambassador to the United Nations agencies for Food and Agriculture.
“I have been privileged to visit humanitarian response efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya and Tanzania where food security continues to be a challenge,” said Tom in his testimony “Most of these people are farmers, and I witnessed the challenges they face in growing enough food to feed their children. As a farmer and a father, to see these people struggle in this way is heartbreaking. While the world will always see crises, I know we can do better to lift people out of poverty.”
Tom is chairman of Leesburg, Ind.-based Tom Farms, which has operations in northern Indiana and Argentina. He served on President Donald Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during the 2016 campaign and met with the president-elect in January 2017 during Trump’s search for an agriculture secretary.
The U.S. is the largest donor to the UN Agencies in Rome, providing more than $2 billion a year in funding for humanitarian response efforts alone. If confirmed, Tom said he intended to bring a private sector perspective to the governance oversight roles of the U.S. mission to help enhance the effectiveness of our investments abroad.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., asked Tom how “climate chaos” is affecting fisheries and forests.
“We know that our family – over the seven generations and the entire industry - has always dealt with climate change and we know we need to adapt. Fortunately, we’ve had the benefits of land grant universities, the private sector and our own sources to try to make sure we can deal with any changes happening with the climate. Not so is the case with many food insecure nations."
Tom said one of his goals will be to “instill resilience” and make sure “we can develop the capacity” and give others the tools to deal with changing climate. Nominations were not voted on Thursday.
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Tom has served as a crop production consultant to various companies in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. He serves on the boards of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the National FFA Foundation, and the National 4-H Foundation. He is the recipient of the 2015 Agriculture Future of America Ag Leader of the Year Award.
The Rome position has been vacant since 2016, when David J. Lane, a nominee of President Barack Obama, left the post. Previous U.S. ambassadors to the WFP and FAO have included the late Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., and former Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio.
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