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USDA nominee Alexis Taylor appears before Senate Ag Committee

USDA nominee Alexis Taylor appears before Senate Ag Committee

Taylor is President Biden’s nominee to be the under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

One of President Biden’s nominees to fill a position within the United States Department of Agriculture appeared before a senate committee.

Alexis Taylor, who led the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) prior to her nomination as the under secretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs in May, testified in front of the Senate Ag Committee on Sept. 22.

“As I have seen from my current position at ODA, the Biden-Harris administration, through the efforts of both Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Tai, have made it clear that the country’s trade agenda is focused on growing the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, and creating trade policy where agriculture is at the table,” Taylor said in her opening remarks.

Taylor fielded questions from senators during her hearing, including one from Iowa Senator Joni Ernst.

Ernst asked Taylor how she’d work with Ambassador Tai and others in the administration to ensure agriculture trade is a priority in any Indo-Pacific discussions.

Taylor wants to create an environment where the ag community is identifying trade opportunities.

“A priority of mine, should I be confirmed, I’m really interested in engaging within the administration to really have our producers, our farmers and ranchers, help drive our trade priorities,” she said. “I’m interested in engaging on what meaningful market access might look like” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith asked Taylor how USDA can connect with farmers and communities of color.

Taylor responded with a need for “intentionality” behind communicating with farmers of color, citing an Oregon Department of Agriculture initiative to translate a grant announcement into Somali.

“That intentional approach and engagement with those community leaders is so critical,” she said. “Should I be confirmed, I’m very interested in bringing that intentionality to programs at the Foreign Agricultural Service.”

The Senate Ag Committee supported Taylor’s nomination.

The nomination will now go to the full senate for a vote.

Ag groups are pleased to see Taylor’s nomination move forward and are hoping for a quick confirmation vote.

"Ms. Taylor has the experience, expertise and savvy to make an immediate impact. The full Senate should not delay in moving her nomination forward,” Bruan Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said in a statement.

Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban and Vincent Garfield Logan appeared with Taylor in front of the ag committee for the roles of under secretary of agriculture for food safety and as a member of the Farm Credit Administration Board, respectively.

The ag committee supported their nominations too.

Doug McKalip, President Biden’s nominee for chief ag negotiator, still needs full senate confirmation.

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