NICHOLS, EDMUND LOWE (1931 ~ )
Mr. Nichols made significant contributions to the Texas agriculture industry and later played key roles in national and international agricultural issues. The following information was compiled from biographical files at the Texas State Cemetery Archives.
Edmund L. Nichols was born December 18, 1931, in Throckmorton, Texas. Nichols graduated from Hardin – Simmons University in Abilene in 1953, then earned a master’s degree in 1957 from the University of Texas at Austin. He began his public service career in the 1950s and for his accomplishments was named a Distinguished Alumnus at both Throckmorton High School and Hardin – Simmons University.
Mr. Nichols began his career in agriculture and for a number of years served as Assistant Texas Commissioner of Agriculture for governmental affairs and administration. He was instrumental in launching the Texas Agricultural Products (TAP) export marketing program and traveled to Japan and Europe to open markets for such high quality Texas products as Ruby Red grapefruit and beef products. He led TAP delegations to other states, hosting the first “Taste of Texas” events to promote high value foods produced and manufactured in Texas.
In 1977, Nichols was appointed Assistant Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D. C. In his position he traveled widely, including a 1978 trip to China in preparation of normalization of U.S. – China trade relations. He also joined the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and served on the President’s Export Policy Task Force where he was named by President Jimmy Carter as a charter member of the U.S. Senior Executive Service. Nichols worked with Congressman Bob Poage, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, to pass the U.S. Agricultural Trade Act of 1978, an important piece of legislation to Texas and other farm producing states. In addition, the Act improved diplomatic status of U.S. agricultural officials abroad and gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture an important voice in international trade policy and representation.
By 1979, Nichols was appointed U.S. Agricultural Counselor to Italy, assigned to the American Embassy in Rome, and was later commissioned by President Ronald Reagan to the rank of Minister-Counselor in the U.S. Senior Foreign Service. He then served as Agricultural Counselor to Denmark and Norway and twice as Agricultural Counselor to Spain. In 1982, he was decorated by the President of Italy as Commendatore (knight commander and is the highest decree awarded by the President of Italy) of the Italian Republic for his role in advancing U.S. – Italian trade relations. While in Italy, Nichols persuaded the Italian Minister of Agriculture to hold the line on tariffs, if raised, would have cost U.S. farmers millions of dollars in farm exports to Europe.
Mr. Nichols later served as Agricultural Minister-Counselor to the U.S. Mission to the European Communities in Brussels from 1989 to 1992. In addition, Nichols served as chairman of the NATO Food and Agriculture Planning Committee, an official group whose mission was to plan for security for Europe and America in the event of war. He retired from public service in late 1993.
Mr. Nichols married Sandra Heiligman of Overton, Texas, in 1964. They have three children, Dr. Jill E. Nichols, James E. Nichols and Kelly Nichols Jones. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols have six grandchildren and all live in Austin. Since 1993, Mr. Nichols has been retired, but occasionally will speak on U.S. agricultural trade policy.