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Whitley named Foreign Agricultural Service administrator

Daniel Whitley FAS administrator.jpg
Career USDA staffer takes over top position to help navigate latest trade landscape and find new ways to support farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named Daniel Whitley the new administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Whitley has served as the agency’s acting administrator since December 2020 and a staffer at the agency for 20 years. As administrator he will oversee personnel in nearly 100 U.S. embassies consulates, and international organizations around the world and collectively providing representation across 180 countries.

The FAS specializes in providing expertise in international trade policy, market development and export assistance, trade data and analysis, and international food aid. Whitley is no stranger to FAS stakeholders and the agricultural trade community, having served in various positions during a 20-year career with the agency. Most recently, he was responsible for leading the FAS trade policy and market analysis teams as associate administrator. Throughout his FAS career, Whitley held leadership positions including deputy administrator of the Office of Global Analysis and Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Whitley joined FAS after starting his career with USDA’s Economic Research Service, focusing on market access issues in the World Trade Organization.

“I am deeply humbled by this opportunity, but I think it is more a reflection of all your hard work during my time as acting administrator than any personal achievements,” Whitley noted in a message to FAS staff. “I know that together, we will continue to meet future challenges from bringing staff back to the physical workplace and navigating the latest trade landscape to finding new ways to support farmers and ranchers and delivering on Administration priorities.”

Whitley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College and Louisiana State University.

USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward welcomed the appointment. “We are pleased that Secretary Vilsack has appointed Daniel to this important role for U.S. agriculture and particularly important for the rice industry. His experience within FAS speaks for itself and we don’t expect any real transition period as he already ‘hit the ground running’ several months ago.”

“USA Rice relies heavily on our longstanding relationships within the FAS to award Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, and most recently, Agricultural Trade Promotion Program funding to support our efforts to promote U.S. rice throughout dozens of markets overseas,” Ward adds. “Our members also support the work FAS’s food assistance division does to provide milled and fortified rice to those in need, using the Food for Progress and McGovern Dole Programs. We are looking forward to working more closely with Daniel in this more permanent role to further grow our export markets worldwide.”

“Whether it’s engaging importing country officials to obtain release of a detained shipment, managing the programs that create demand for U.S. products or negotiating expanded foreign market access for U.S. dog and cat food, FAS plays a critical role in facilitating exports,” says Peter Tabor, vice president of regulatory and international affairs at the Pet Food Institute. “Daniel is an experienced and capable leader, and we look forward to working with him and his excellent team at FAS to secure and expand market access for U.S. pet food.”

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