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May 11, 2017

Ag Secretary Perdue Announces Creation of Undersecretary for Trade

Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the establishment of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The undersecretary will serve as USDA’s point person in managing and coordinating agricultural trade issues across multiple agencies and within the different USDA offices. The undersecretary will chair an inter-agency committee that will include the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, the Food Safety Inspection Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Federal Grain Inspection Service. Additionally, the undersecretary will meet regularly with the undersecretaries for food safety and marketing and regulatory programs to discuss trade issues.

“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world,” Perdue said in a USDA press release. “By working side by side with our U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world.”

The addition of this position is among other organizational changes Perdue plans to make. Perdue also announced a new undersecretary will be selected for a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which will focus on domestic agricultural issues. Just as importantly, the USDA reorganization will elevate the Rural Development agencies to report directly to the secretary of agriculture to ensure that rural America always has a seat at the table. 

The FAS, which deals with overseas markets, will now report to the trade undersecretary under the new scheme. Previously FAS, the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency reported to the undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services. After the reorganization, the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency will now report to the new undersecretary for farm production and conservation. For more information, view the “Report on the Proposed 2017 Reorganization of the Department of Agriculture” on the USDA website.

To address the U.S. leadership in trade, the Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative this afternoon. Western Growers looks forward to working with Lighthizer to further support the U.S. farmers, manufacturers, service providers and workers around the world.

Contact Ken Gilliland at (949) 885-2267 or Ken Barbic at (202) 296-0191 for questions.