Biden announces chief ag negotiator nominee

Biden announces chief ag negotiator nominee
Jun 10, 2022

Doug McKalip received the nomination

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

President Biden has announced his nominee to fill an important ag position within the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

On June 8, Doug McKalip, who has been with the United States Department of Agriculture since 1994, received the president’s nomination to be the chief agricultural negotiator.

As chief agricultural negotiator, McKalip, if confirmed by the Senate, would work within the USTR to negotiate and implement ag provisions in free trade agreements, World Trade Organization commitments and other measures.

McKalip is the second nominee President Biden has put forward.

Biden nominated Elaine Trevino, former president of the Almond Alliance of California, for the position in Sept. 2021. But she withdrew her nomination following months of delays.

McKalip’s time at USDA includes serving as senior advisor to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack since March 2021 on issues like trade, national security and other issues.

He also served as Vilsack’s senior advisor in 2015 and 2016 under President Obama.

McKalip was also a senior advisor for agriculture and rural affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council where he provided farm, ranch and rural property information to President Obama.

Multiple ag organizations and lawmakers welcomed McKalip’s nomination.

“Doug has been a key member of my team throughout my tenure as Secretary of Agriculture and has demonstrated a consistent ability to tackle difficult issues and to develop bi-partisan solutions to challenges when opposing views exist,” Vilsack said in a statement. “These skills will serve him well as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative. We will miss having Doug here at USDA, but know that American agriculture and USTR will be well served by having him in this new role.”

“The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the nomination of Doug McKalip for the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U. S Trade Representative. He is a government professional with a wide experience in agricultural issues,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.

"U.S. agriculture faces numerous challenges on the global marketplace, and we are thrilled President Biden has nominated Doug McKalip to serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR,” said Stephen Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. “Doug understands these challenges deeply from his years of service at USDA and in the White House, and ASA is glad to have that expertise added to the team at USTR. U.S. soybean growers are excited to work with Doug in his new role."

Expediting McKalip’s nomination process is key for U.S. ag.

With trade deals in the works, the ag sector needs to have a representative at the table, Duvall said.

“It is crucial that this position be filled without further delay so existing agreements can be strengthened and new agreements with the European Union, Great Britain and in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework can be explored,” he said. “We are ready to work with Mr. McKalip and Ambassador Tai to ensure a level playing field and advance the important work of expanding agricultural trade opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Two USDA positions still require Senate confirmation.

In May, President Biden nominated Alexis Taylor to be the under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and Stacy Dean to be the under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services within the USDA.

The Senate is considering nominations on June 14 and 16, but none of those hearings pertain to any USDA or USTR positions.

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