Animal Ag Responds to Creation of Undersecretary for Trade

Jamie Johansen

The importance of international trade to American agriculture has been recognized by our new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue with the the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA.

“Food is a noble thing to trade. This nation has a great story to tell and we’ve got producers here that produce more than we can consume,” said Secretary Perdue. “And that’s good, because I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy. Our people in American agriculture have shown they can grow it, and we’re here to sell it in markets all around the world.”

Listen to Perdue’s announcement here: Secretary Perdue announces USDA reorganization plans

As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) strongly supports the establishment of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs within USDA. “USMEF was an early supporter of this initiative and we feel this will be a very positive addition to the department. We look forward to further details regarding this appointment.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Craig Uden said this in response, “We believe the restructuring of USDA makes sense for cattlemen and women, providing a one-stop shop for producers who utilize the many services of the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Additionally, having Rural Development directly reporting to the Secretary shows the emphasis he is placing on helping rural America. Furthermore, establishing this new Undersecretary for Trade position was one of our top priorities for 2017, so we are extremely pleased to see Secretary Perdue filling in the gaps left by the previous Administration. This position will play a vital role in leading USDA’s efforts to capitalize on foreign demand for U.S. agriculture products.”

The National Turkey Federation also strongly supports these plans. “The Secretary’s plan to move decisively on opportunities for agricultural trade is greatly appreciated by the turkey industry, whose exports USDA just forecasted higher on expected demand growth from our trading partners,” said National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger. “Our export markets are keys to profitability, as global consumers increasingly seek turkey’s many healthy meal choices. Turkey producers appreciate the Secretary’s straightforward promise to farmers: ‘You grow it, we’ll sell it.’”

Ken Maschhoff, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said they were very pleased the Trump administration recognizes the importance of exports to U.S. agriculture, which has a trade surplus. They also agree new undersecretary can help convey their message to the administration that it should work to preserve and expand foreign market access for U.S. agricultural products.

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