Two important positions related to ag remain vacant
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. senator is asking President Biden to appoint people to fill two positions important to agriculture and trade.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling on the president to appoint a chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and an under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Appointing individuals to these two positions will allow the U.S. to expand market access and strengthen our agriculture community,” Grassley wrote in an Aug. 26 letter.
This is the second time U.S. lawmakers have asked the president to fill these positions.
In June, a group of bipartisan Congresspeople sent a letter to the president asking for his attention on this matter.
The chief agricultural negotiator works within the USTR to negotiate and implement ag provisions in free trade agreements, World Trade Organization commitments and other measures.
Gregg Doug held this position during President Trump’s tenure.
An ag negotiator is needed to ensure Canada abides by its dairy provisions in the USMCA and to ensure Mexico will still allow GMO corn for human consumption, Grassley’s letter says.
The responsibilities of the USDA’s under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs include administering programs related to the development of foreign markets and carrying out agency functions involving foreign agricultural policies and programs.
President Trump appointed Ted McKinney to this post.
Farmers need someone in this position now to ensure export market access is maintained and expanded.
“As farmers face many uncertainties relating to weather and tax policy, I hope your administration moves quickly to soothe concerns and strengthen foreign market access,” Grassley said in his letter.
Multiple positions within the USDA remain vacant.
These include under secretary of food safety, the chief financial officer of agriculture and the deputy under secretary of research, education and economics.
The last USDA member to be confirmed was Chavonda Jacobs-Young on July 28 when she became the under secretary of research, education and economics.