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Agriculture and government affairs specialist Tom O'Brien has joined Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association as a consulting lobbyist. O'Brien, affiliated with the legislative firm O'Brien DC, will work closely with PMA's government relations and public affairs staff, which is led by Kathy Means.
He also will work with PMA's recently appointed chief scientific officer, Robert Whitaker, who will join the association staff officially on April 1.
O'Brien brings extensive experience to PMA - gained both in state government -- as deputy director of California Gov. Gray Davis' Washington, D.C. office, and in the federal government, serving as the associate administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service.
During his time with Gov. Davis, O'Brien represented Davis' administration before Congress and federal agencies and served as an advisor on agriculture, trade and economic development matters. His work with the USDA included facilitating the marketing of fruits and vegetables include the development of the nation's first organic food standards, and the reform of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
O'Brien also has served the specialty crop industry as a lobbyist working on key issues such as the 2007 farm bill. Earlier this month, he was appointed to USDA's Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee on Trade in Fruits and Vegetables.
"Tom will help bring PMA's voice to bear on issues where our industry needs to be heard, including immigration reform, country of origin labeling, the farm bill and global trade," said Means.