Local businessman and Village of Northport trustee Tom Kehoe has been appointed an adviser to the Trump administration on international trade in the seafood industry.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed Kehoe to serve on the USDA’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products. The group consists of 140 private-sector members, who will offer input on negotiating and enforcing new and existing trade agreements. Kehoe is the only individual representing the seafood industry.
Kehoe said that he is honored and humbled that the Department of Agriculture has selected him to serve.
“The sustainability and success of the seafood and agriculture industries is vital to the health and safety of all Americans,” Kehoe said. “I look forward to sharing my expertise in international trade and insight on where American trade policy needs to go in order for American businesses to thrive in international markets.”
Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure that U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives reflect U.S. public- and private-sector commercial and economic interests. Perdue and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer jointly manage the committee.
Kehoe, a native New Yorker, initially got into the seafood business in 1975 in Maine with lobsters. He worked on a daily basis from 1975 to 2017 with fish and fishermen, but now deals largely with importing and exporting seafood. In 1992, Kehoe and business partner Roger Boccio opened K & B Seafood, an East Northport fish market. In 2008, they established Seaflight Logistics, a fish wholesaler that transported food both nationally and internationally. The fishmongers expanded their operation after attending an international fish market and finding a growing market for oysters and shellfish in China and Moscow. Kehoe is currently the CEO of Kingsbridge Strategies Inc., an import/export firm experienced in public policy and business consulting. The international seafood trade remains an important aspect of his operation.
“Working with small businesses, large businesses, and eventually growing my own company into an international business, I have a unique understanding of the needs of Long Island and New York’s businesses — as well as businesses nationwide who rely on international trade — and I look forward to representing these interests on this committee,” Kehoe said.
One of Kehoe’s biggest customers for 25 years has been the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. Sandy Ingber is the executive chef there and part owner of the restaurant. He said that Kehoe’s appointment will help him. In the summer, Ingber said the Oyster Bar offers 20 different types of oysters and each day serves as many 4,000 oysters on the half shell.
“Tom is an honest man and knowledgeable about the seafood industry,” he said. “I’m excited about getting European oysters here in America.”
Kehoe is also a representative on the U.S. Department of Commerce, New York District Export Council. He formerly served as the president, vice president and director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Kehoe is a former Northport police commissioner and deputy mayor. Kehoe currently serves as the village’s commissioner of commerce, his third stint at the post. Kehoe’s term with the USDA will expire in 2023.