WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2017 - Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s top farm policy adviser during the presidential campaign, will be leading the transition group installing his team and policy at the Agriculture Department. 

Clovis, a co-chair of the Trump campaign, confirmed to Agri-Pulse that he would be leading the USDA transition team starting Friday. 

Clovis served as a surrogate for Trump during the campaign, speaking to farm groups and also representing Trump in an October debate with Kathleen Merrigan, a former deputy agriculture secretary representing Hillary Clinton. 

A former economics professor at Morningside College in Iowa, Clovis espoused views that sometimes broke with the GOP platform as well as conservative views in Congress. 

During the October debate with Merrigan, Clovis said that nutrition programs should stay in the farm bill and that the way to reduce the cost of the nutrition assistance initiatives is to promote economic growth that will put more people to work, rather than cutting programs.

Clovis also said that “irresponsible farming” methods on marginal lands because of high commodity prices had contributed to the “dead patch” in the Gulf of Mexico, a reference to the hypoxic zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Clovis said the government needed to “incentivize” more conservation on the part of farmers.

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Trump’s landing team has included Brian Klippenstein, executive director of Protect the Harvest, who is expected to eventually return to Missouri. 

Other landing team members include Carrie Castille, a former adviser to the Louisiana Agriculture Department; Lance Kotschwar, vice president for government and industry affairs at The Gavilon Group LLC, an agribusiness firm; Russell Laird, vice president of federal relations at the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp.; and Stephen Vaden with the law firm Jones Day.