Biden administration remains without chief ag negotiator

Biden administration remains without chief ag negotiator
May 04, 2022

Former nominee Elaine Trevino withdrew her nomination

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Almost 18 months into President Biden’s tenure in the White House and his administration remains without an important ag representative.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) still doesn’t have a chief agricultural negotiator.

Whomever holds the position works with the USTR, in this case Katherine Tai, to negotiate and implement ag provisions in free trade agreements, World Trade Organization commitments and other measures.

The president did have a nominee selected.

In Sept. 2021, President Biden nominated Elaine Trevino, former president of the Almond Alliance of California and a former deputy secretary of the California Department of Agriculture and Food, to be the next chief ag negotiator.

But following months of delays, Trevino withdrew her nomination.

“It now seems clear that there is no timely path forward to gain Senate confirmation,” she wrote in a March letter to the president, multiple media outlets reported.

Following her letter to the president, the White House officially withdrew her nomination for chief ag negotiator.

Trevino has since taken a different position within the Biden administration with a focus on ag supply chain issues.

In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture has a vacancy.

The USDA is still without an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

Both positions need to be filled to ensure U.S. agriculture is represented during high level trade negotiations, lawmakers said.

“We were happy to see the USDA is actively conducting trade missions, like its recent trip to the United Arab Emirates, but we fear that our farmers and producers are not being fully represented without a nominated Under Secretary,” an April 6 letter to President Biden says.

Multiple Republican members of Congress, including Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) and Ted Budd (R-North Carolina), signed the letter. has contacted U.S. ag groups for comment.

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