Lawmakers urge Biden to nominate chief agricultural negotiator 

A bipartisan group of House members led by Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, this week urged President Biden to nominate a chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). 

In a June 29 letter, Panetta, Arrington and 26 of their House colleagues said the role has been instrumental in prioritizing American agriculture in trade policy, eliminating numerous non-tariff barriers and expanding agricultural trade. 

“Sound agriculture trade policy is imperative for our producers as many commodities are export dependent and rely on a level playing field in foreign markets,” the letter noted. “In fact, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, and more than 20 percent of U.S. farm income is generated through exports. With U.S. agricultural production outpacing domestic demand for many commodities, American farmers and agribusinesses rely on global markets to sustain prices and revenues.”

NGFA and other agricultural groups wrote to Biden on May 14 urging expeditious nomination of this important role. Greg Doudd served as chief agricultural negotiator under the Trump administration after being nominated in June 2017 and approved by the Senate in March 2018. 

Another important aspect for agricultural trade – Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – expired on July 1. TPA allows expedited congressional consideration of trade deals negotiated by the administration and provides an “up-or-down” vote without amendments. TPA was used to approve and implement the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which went into effect one year ago on July 1, 2020. TPA has lapsed before, most recently from 2007-2015. NGFA will continue to encourage Congress and the administration to reauthorize this provision.