WASHINGTON -- The head of the U.S. Agriculture Department's farm exports unit resigned yesterday to become California's secretary of trade and commerce under Gov.-Elect Gray Davis.
Lon Hatamiya, 39, a California prune and peach farmer who holds law and business degrees, was appointed by President Clinton in 1993 to head the department's marketing division. In 1997, he became head of the department's Foreign Agricultural Service, the agency that promotes farm exports.
Davis, a Democrat who succeeds Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, said in a statement that Hatamiya will work to expand trade for California's agriculture, computer, biomedical and entertainment industries.
"The governor made a good pitch," Hatamiya said in an interview. "It broadens the field beyond agriculture for me and besides, it's home."
Hatamiya's family operates H. B. Orchards Co. in Marysville, Calif., north of Sacramento. He plans to leave the Agriculture Department by late January.
Hatamiya's exit leaves vacant the top two export-promoting positions at the same time the department is trying to bolster exports to compensate for weak grain and livestock prices. Tim Galvin, who was Hatamiya's deputy, became special trade adviser to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in October. Galvin's old position remains vacant.
Christopher Goldthwait, who manages export sales and programs, probably will handle both jobs until replacements are named, Hatamiya said.
"It's been tough the past year," to maintain farm exports amid the Asian economic recession, he said. U.S. farm exports, which account for about a quarter of U.S. farm income, are forecast at $50.5 billion for 1999, down from $53.6 billion in 1998.
Pub Date: 12/31/98