Why the USTR urgently needs an agricultural negotiator

The Senate needs to approve the nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, said the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and nearly 100 other organizations in a recent letter to the Senate Finance Committee leadership.

President Biden has nominated Doug McKalip for the position. McKalip has the backing of nearly 100 organizations (including BIO), who are calling for his swift approval. The position has been vacant since 2020.

McKalip has the right experience, said the letter: “In addition to his current position as a trusted advisor to Secretary (Tom) Vilsack, Mr. McKalip has served in numerous leadership positions in USDA and has represented American farmers, ranchers and agriculture around the world.”

Specifically, McKalip’s resumé includes leadership roles at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, and coordinating federal policy for the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture.

Mexico’s, other countries’ treatment of biotech shows why we need a Chief Agricultural Negotiator – now

With Mexico and other countries stonewalling progress by imposing barriers to trade in biotech crops, we need this position filled, says BIO.

Mexico has been failing to uphold the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), specifically by failing to approve new biotech crops. Now, Mexico’s President wants to end imports of genetically modified corn for human consumption by 2024. While members of Congress like Adrian Smith (R-NE) called on the White House to press this issue, little progress was reported after President Biden hosted Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador yesterday.

Beyond Mexico, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator needs to work on removing trade barriers in the Indo-Pacific, “the enforcement of existing trade agreements and the imperative of tackling non-tariff barriers to trade around the world,” said the letter signed by BIO.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted the global supply of commodities, which increases the risk of food insecurity for millions,” says USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai in her endorsement of McKalip—more evidence of why ag needs to top trade discussions.

About The Author

Scroll to Top