Floyd Gaibler passed away Thursday afternoon, leaving behind a rich history of passionate defense for American farmers during his career at the USDA, U.S. Grains Council, International Dairy Foods Association, the Lesher and Russell consulting firm and elsewhere.
Gaibler, a Nebraska native who leaves behind a wife and two children, died “following complications during surgery,” according to a USGC statement.
After representing almost every sector of the U.S. agricultural sector over the past 45 years in Washington, Gaibler’s most significant impact may have been on the people who he worked with.
“Floyd was a good friend of mine,” says J.B. Penn, former USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. “Like everyone else, I’ve known him for a long time.”
And Gaibler was an easy person to like, says Randy Russell, an agricultural lobbyist who worked with Gaibler in the 1980’s during the Ronald Reagan administration.
“He was beloved,” said Russell, who also considered Gaibler a close friend. “He had a wonderful sense of humor. He was self-deprecating. He would tell stories about himself that made people comfortable around him.”
And his passing is a loss for the agriculture sector, said Russell. “It’s a big loss for our community. He had a great institutional knowledge.”
The last time Penn – Gaibler’s boss when he wore the title of deputy under secretary at USDA during the George W. Bush administration – talked to him, was Christmas when the two of them and former colleagues all got together on a Zoom call to keep in touch.
“He was very energetic and full of life, so I was just shocked when I heard the news,” Penn said. “I am just saddened.”
Gaibler did some consulting work after working for Penn at USDA, but then joined the U.S. Grains Council in 2010 as the organization’s director of
“Floyd was a good man who loved his work at the Council and in the agriculture community,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “We are deeply saddened by his loss and grateful for the many contributions he made to our industry over a lifetime of work.”
Gaibler was his most animated when he saw a threat to the U.S. agriculture sector. When former president Donald Trump threatened to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Gaibler sounded the warning bells on Capitol Hill.
Testifying at a House Agriculture Committee hearing in 2017, Gaibler warned that “the recent furor of the proposed executive order to withdraw from
But Gaibler also praised the biotechnology chapter of the trade pact after it was renegotiated and renamed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“This is one of those foundational chapters that we would want to have included in any other free trade negotiations,” Gaibler told Agri-Pulse in a 2018 interview. “This is our gold standard for biotech.”
Whether it was at USGC or USDA, Gaibler gave the job his all, says Penn.
“He was very dedicated and it was almost as if it was personal to him,” Penn said.
The USGC, in a note sent out Thursday night to those who knew Gaibler, said, “Floyd was a good man who loved his work at the Council and enjoyed working with all of you. May he rest in peace.”
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