Kim Olson, the Democratic nominee for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, visited Madisonville on Thursday to attend the Madison County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting at the Kimbro Center.
Olson served her country for 25 years and was part of the first generation of female military pilots. She logged four-thousand hours of flying time and commanded troops in several combat zones, including Iraq.
“I would like to bring professional leadership back to the agency,” said Olson. “Our mission is to support our producers, advocate for the farming and ranching community and help the consumer.”
Since the agency does not legislate, Olson listed the ability to get along with others as one of the position’s main necessities.
“This is a position that has to represent all of Texas,” said Olson. “If you are going to represent people, especially in the farming and ranching community, you have to go out and meet them where they are.”
Olson has visited over 200 counties in the state in order to learn their specific needs and concerns. Since much of the rural communities are mainly conservative, Olson understands the importance of bipartisanship.
“I am here to represent all Texans and all agricultural interests,” said Olson. “In doing that, a lot of those people sit on the other side of the aisle. When it rains, it rains on Democrats and Republicans alike. If there is a drought, it does not care what your political beliefs are.”
The trade war has obviously been one of the biggest issues discussed in the agency of late. Olson has been critical of the methodologies used and the impact it has on local farmers.
“The trade war is basically about the intellectual capital of companies that are trying to go into China,” said Olson. “The people that are taking it on the nose for that industry are the farmers and the ranchers. I do not think it is wise for our nation and state to leverage ranching and farming.”
Olson has made it clear that she prefers diplomacy to aggression and is concerned for what some of those methodologies could mean for Texans.
“If we lose that market, we will never get it back,” said Olson. “If you do not show up with beef, someone else will take that shelf space.”
Olson’s opponent is the current Commissioner of Agriculture, Republican Sid Miller. He was first elected to the office in Nov. of 2014.
“I have worked very hard to run for something rather than against someone,” said Olson. “I will let (Miller’s) record speak for itself, I am just trying to convince Texans that I will be better for them.”
Olson is a fourth-generation farmer. On her family farm in Palo Pinto County, she raises vegetables, keeps bees and cultivates native grasses.
She was HR director with Dallas ISD and served two years on the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees. She has also written a book about her time in the service entitled Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace and was president of an organization that supports female veterans returning from combat. She is a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
“I want the voters of Madison County and all voters to consider three things,” said Olson. “Who do you believe will best represent your interests in that office? I want you to think about voting the person instead of the party. And finally, ask yourself who will take us into the future of Texas agriculture.”