July 27, 2022

Ag organizations call for conformation on chief ag negotiator

Ag organizations call for conformation on chief ag negotiator

By: Sydney Sheffield

Almost 100 agricultural and food organizations have sent a letter to the United States Senate Committee on Finance urging the swift confirmation of Doug McKalip as the chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. McKalip was nominated in June 2022 after the withdrawal of the previous chief ag negotiator nominee.

“Mr. McKalip possesses deep familiarity with the food and agriculture industry through three decades of leadership in critical roles in agriculture trade policy,” the letter says. “In addition to his current position as a trusted advisor to Secretary Vilsack, Mr. McKalip has served in numerous leadership positions in USDA and has represented American farmers, ranchers, and agriculture around the world and advocated for U.S. agricultural products and technology.”

McKalip currently serves as the senior adviser to the USDA secretary since March 2021 and has been with USDA for 29 years. In his current position, McKalip advises Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on all agricultural matters relating to trade, national security, animal and plant health regulations, and a wide portfolio of domestic and international issues. McKalip formerly served in a leadership capacity in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services.

“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,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “He is a government professional with wide experience in agricultural issues. 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.”

“Doug McKalip is an excellent nominee for the critical role of chief agricultural negotiator, especially as the United States needs to increase global trade and secure greater market access for U.S. products,” says John Bode, President, and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association.

In the letter sent to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, the groups highlight McKalip’s deep familiarity with the food and agriculture industry and institutional regulatory and trade experience. The letter also underscores McKalip’s ability to tackle some of the most pressing trade policy issues the industry is facing, including reducing barriers in the Indo-Pacific region, managing ongoing challenges with Mexico, and enforcing trade agreements globally.

Together, the group of associations represents much of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country's economic activity and constitutes 14% of total U.S. employment.

Read the letter here.