America needs a real farmer as secretary of Agriculture
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If there is one clear message to take from this election, it is that Americans are angry. They feel that politicians in Washington are out of touch with their lives and their communities. It is a problem that is felt even deeper in the farms that drive our economy and the lives of rural Americans. We don’t read about farming anymore.

Sadly, as Americans, we often take for granted the contributions of farmers who work tirelessly to provide Americans with the food we put on our tables. We don’t hear about their trials and tribulations until there is a natural disaster, such as the drought in California. In fact, more people are likely to identify California as the country’s center of technology than the country’s leading agricultural producer.


Now, as President-elect Trump looks to nominate a secretary of Agriculture in the coming days, we know he will look to someone who is able come in and effectively represent rural America in our nation’s capital.

Having a real farmer, who understands firsthand the complexities of the agricultural sector, is important to effectively lead the Department of Agriculture. That is why America needs Abel Maldonado, the former Lieutenant Governor California, as our next secretary of Agriculture.  

Maldonado understands the life of the American farmer because he is an American farmer. He knows their angst and anxiety regarding America’s farming future because he has experienced those same challenges personally.

He was born to immigrant parents in California and, as a young boy; he picked strawberries alongside his father and brothers to support their family.

And, with an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to hard work, Maldonado went on to eventually lead his family’s farming business, Agro-jal Farms, Inc, as CEO and saw it expand from a half-acre to a 6,000 acre enterprise, employing over 500 Americans.

It is hard working American entrepreneurs like Mr. Maldonado who continue to grow our economy and give those who are willing to work, a chance at the American Dream.  

Though like many entrepreneurs, Abel grew frustrated with the governmental bureaucracy that made it difficult for him to expand his business. So, at 26, he was elected to the Santa Maria City Council. Two years later, he was the Mayor of Santa Maria. His understanding of farming, business and trade helped Maldonado become a California State Senator and in 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made Abel Maldonado his Lieutenant Governor.

While people debate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll We must do more to protect American Jews 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE’s mandate, it is quite clear to us. Americans want him to place Americans into governmental positions that understand their issues and their lives. They are tired of career politicians making the decisions. They want to know that the people in charge understand and represent their interests at a deeply personal level.

Few people are as qualified to represent the best interests of American farmers as a real American farmer, and Abel Maldonado is exactly that. His story is the American Dream writ large.

He knows the pain rural Americans are feeling in the digital and technological economy. He understands why they are angry and feel disenfranchised from the political process. More to the point, he will make decisions that are based on the best interest of farmers, not as a means for political gains.  

Farming is more than an economic engine that drives a significant segment of our economy. It has always been a means to liberty and independence, since the founding of the republic. People might not know that it was farmers that founded Jamestown, America’s first settlement.

It was farmers that wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence. It was a farmer that became our first president. They were the first entrepreneurs and they were the first political leaders. All thanks to a drive and determination that we call the American spirit.

Maldonado is undoubtedly the most qualified candidate for this post, and his experience as a farmer, businessman, and public servant is incomparable in preparing him for the role. Now, it is time for President-Elect Trump to fulfill on his mandate, support someone who embodies the American spirit, and select Maldonado as the next secretary of Agriculture.

Javier Palomarez, who last week announced his role as adviser on Trump's National Diversity Council. He's also President & CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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