(Nov. 10) It’s official.

California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has picked A.G. Kawamura, a partner in the Irvine, Calif.-based Orange County Produce Inc., to head the Golden State’s Department of Food and Agriculture. The selection of Kawamura, a Republican Party activist, as agriculture secretary by the actor-turned-politician had been widely rumored since the Oct. 7 recall election that ousted Gov. Gray Davis.

And widely rumored, obviously, with good reason.
The 47-year-old Kawamura, known as a passionate and articulate advocate of the fresh produce industry, brings impressive credentials to the post in agriculture-rich California. In addition to operating a successful business, he is a past chairman of Western Growers and a past president of the Orange County Farm Bureau.

Quite simply, he has served the produce industry. And that has earned him the respect of his colleagues.

Here’s what a couple had to say about him:

  • “You better believe this is going to be good for us,” said Bill Ramsey, an owner of Mann Packing Co., Salinas, Calif. “A.G. is special. He does care, and he is so smart. … Picking A.G. was the best decision (Schwarzenegger) could have made.”

  • “This is one of the finest things to happen to agriculture in decades,” said Tom Nassif, Western Growers president. “A.G. has such special talents. He has such vision.”
    Kawamura said a conversation with Schwarzenegger convinced him that the Republican governor-elect cares about agriculture and believes the state’s problems can be solved. The Orange County grower described Schwarzenegger as a “coalition builder.”

Kawamura can only help in that regard.

Schwarzenegger’s selection of Kawamura is bold. It represents the dawning of a new day in California.

From this vantage point, that day looks bright.

An apt appointment