USDA creates undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs

May 12, 2017

Sonny Perdue also announced the creation of the Farm Production and Conservation mission area

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

The United States Department of Agriculture announced the creation of a new position within the department  on Thursday – undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

The new position will “promote U.S. food, fiber and fuel around the world,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a video announcing the new position.

Congress directed the USDA to create an undersecretary for trade in the 2014 Farm Bill.


Under the current USDA structure, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which handles international markets, and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which looks after domestic issues, were housed under one mission area.

“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 May 11 release. “It makes much more sense to situate (the) FAS under the new undersecretary for trade, where staff can sharpen their focus on foreign markets.”

U.S. farm organizations have applauded Perdue’s actions.

“Secretary Perdue’s announcement signals to farm country that the Trump Administration is listening to America’s farmers and ranchers. In this farm economy, trade is more important than ever to farmers’ incomes,” Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said in a release. “Now is the time for U.S. agriculture to fully capitalize on growing global demand for our products. Today’s announcement is a big step toward that goal.”

“Secretary Perdue’s action to create an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs is good news for farmers and ranchers, and assures [AG3] that exports will receive daily attention at the USDA,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in an organizational statement.

The American Soybean Association called Perdue’s actions “very encouraging,” but said it needs time to look at the potential future impacts.

“We will review the new structure with a careful eye, looking to make sure that the new USDA increases efficiency, while keeping its commitment to expanding markets both at home and abroad for farmers…,” Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association, said in a release.

Perdue also created an undersecretary for a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area.

The position will focus on domestic agricultural issues.

“The men and women of American agriculture are hardy people, many of whom were born into the calling of feeding America and the world,” Perdue said in his release. “Their efforts are appreciated and this adjustment to the USDA structure will help us help them in even better ways than before.”

No candidates have been named for either position.

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