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Ag groups ask for quick USTR confirmation

Ag groups ask for quick USTR confirmation

President Biden has nominated Katherine Tai for the position

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Several U.S. ag industry organizations want the next U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to be confirmed without delay.

More than 100 groups signed a letter to the Senate finance committee asking its members to quickly confirm Katherine Tai as the next USTR.

Tai is currently the chief Democratic trade counsel for the House Committee on Ways and Means where she is viewed as an expert on China trade policy. And during United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations with the Trump administration, Tai advocated for stronger labor provisions.

Her ability to secure bipartisan support on trade policy makes her an ideal candidate to represent American ag’s trade interests, the groups say.

Her “capabilities are essential to the success of the next Trade Representative in addressing the more pressions trade policy issues, including trade relationship challenges with China and the European Union, as well as enforcement of existing trade agreements and tackling non-tariff barriers to trade,” the organizations wrote in their Jan. 26 letter.

Letter signees include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, the National Turkey Federation and the American Soybean Association.

In addition to the production ag groups supporting Tai’s nomination, other agribusiness stakeholders do too.

More than 30 food and agribusinesses signed a letter of their own, with the same working as the other groups’ letter, to show their support for a swift confirmation for Ms. Tai.

Signatories of this letter include Bayer US, the International Ingredient Corporation, Cargill and Senaca Foods Corporation.

Like President Biden’s other cabinet nominees, Tai will have to face questioning from her peers, in this case the Senate finance committee.

To date, only four people have received the necessary support needed for their cabinet positions:

  • Antony Blinken as secretary of state
  • Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense
  • Avril Haines as director of national intelligence
  • Janet Yellen as secretary of the treasury

Tom Vilsack, who is up for confirmation to head the United States Department of Agriculture for the second time, will have his hearing on Feb. 2.

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