Three high-profile central San Joaquin Valley Republicans will be among 75 state leaders who will head to China next week with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
John Harris, a prominent west-side rancher who is Harris Farms CEO and chairman, will head to the Far East along with Don Peracchi, another west-side grower who is chairman of the Westlands Water District board, and Pete Weber, a leader in California Forward and co-chair of California Friends of the San Joaquin Valley.
Harris, who noted that everyone is paying their own way, said he was “thrilled to be invited.”
“The purpose of the trip is to build and strengthen California’s trade with China,” Harris said. “Agricultural trade is an important ingredient. Almost everything we produce here has China as a potential customer. I am a big free trader and I feel that any better access we have to China is a plus.”
As for teaming up with Brown, who is a Democrat, Harris offered high praise for the governor.
“I have known Jerry over the last 35 years or so, and he is definitely the key right now to turning California around, which he is working really hard on doing,” Harris said. ”He is leading the water efforts. I don’t think we are all that far apart on most issues.”
Peracchi and Weber couldn’t be reached for comment.
Brown will meet with Chinese government and business leaders and open a new California foreign trade and investment office. The trade mission will include stops in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
It will be from Wednesday, April 10, through Tuesday, April 16.
The delegation joining Brown was organized not by the Brown administration, but by the Bay Area Council, a nonprofit economic advocacy group.
Besides Harris, Peracchi and Weber, the group includes business, economic development, investment and policy leaders from around the state.
Several administration officials will also go along, including California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard.