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Agricultural Trade Secretary Position Formed

The House Agriculture Committee, during consideration of the farm bill, adopted an amendment by Congressmen Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) that would establish an undersecretary for Foreign Agricultural Services.  This position would provide a singular focus on trade and foster more effective coordination of transparent, rules-based trade policies in other USDA agencies.  The congressmen argued that trade is a critical to the agricultural economy and that there needs to be greater focus and coordination on trade.  The last time USDA’s trade functions were reorganized was in 1978.  At that time, U.S. agriculture exports were $29 billion, compared to $136 billion today.  In 1978, grains and oilseeds amounted to 60% of all U.S. agriculture exports, while produce accounted for 6% and meat and poultry accounted for just 3%.  Today, grains and oilseeds account for 36%, while meat and poultry constitute 15%, and produce 13%.  In the last 30 years, there has also been a shift in the challenges facing U.S. agriculture in the global market.  It has dramatically changed from tariff barriers to phytosanitary and other non-tariff trade barriers.  Twenty-five agricultural groups supported the amendment including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Meat Association and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.


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