The 2014 farm bill established an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the USDA. The farm bill provision to restructure the trade function at the USDA and the establishment of the new trade position was a recognition by Congress of trade’s current significance and growing importance with the agricultural economy.
However, the USDA is behind schedule in establishing the new position notes a section in the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s report language accompanying the proposed fiscal year 2016 agriculture appropriations bill.
The USDA was to restructure the department’s trade functions to establish a trade-specific area headed up by the new undersecretary. According to the farm bill, the USDA was to report to Congress in 180 days how the trade functions were to be reorganized and within one year of the submission of the report the USDA was to implement the reorganization plan including establishment of the undersecretary position.
The subcommittee notes the study is almost a year over due. The USDA say it has contracted the National Academy of Public Administration to complete a study. The last time the USDA’s trade function was reorganized was in 1978.