Nearly 60 industry groups and businesses joined Farmers for Free Trade in sending a letter to Senators Schumer and McConnell to bring Doug McKalip and Alexis Taylor’s nominations to the floor for a vote. Doug was nominated by President Biden to serve as the United States’ Chief Ag Negotiator at USTR. Alexis was nominated to serve as Under Secretary of USDA for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. Unfortunately, both of these nominations have been held up by Senators concerned about unrelated matters. It is important to U.S. food and agriculture that we get these two individual confirmed so that we can be well represented on the issues that are so important to our industry.
A copy of the letter is below.
Please contact Brian Kuehl, Executive Director, Farmers for Free Trade if you have any questions.
November x, 2022
The Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell:
We are writing to ask for your help in securing the Senate confirmation of Alexis Taylor to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Doug McKalip to serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. We ask that the U.S. Senate confirm these highly qualified nominees to these important posts before the end of this year.
U.S. agriculture is the strongest and most productive in the world. Trade is vital to the health of the U.S. agricultural economy and, in today’s global market, standing still is falling behind. Our food and agriculture sectors need Ms. Taylor and Mr. McKalip confirmed so that the U.S. can continue to grow overseas markets for our food and agriculture products.
It takes years to build relationships and trust with overseas buyers. While other countries are entering into new trade deals, our two key agriculture trade officials remain unconfirmed two years into the Biden Administration. This is unacceptable and is damaging the competitiveness of U.S. food and agriculture.
While the U.S. has completed four trade agreements since 2010, including the modernization of NAFTA, China has entered into 10 new agreements, Japan has entered seven, the EU has entered eight, and Canada has entered eight. Several key U.S. trade partners are outpacing the U.S. in the benefits of their trade policies, with the EU and China experiencing lower tariffs and other reduced trade barriers on an estimated $553 billion and $420 billion in total trade, compared with the U.S.’ $171 billion. If we are not aggressively pursuing new market opportunities, we will also face long-term weakness in this sector with devastating impacts for rural America.
U.S. agriculture has faced unprecedented challenges over the past several years. Between weather, transportation disruptions, increased foreign competition and the strengthening dollar, our nation’s food and agriculture industries are facing significant headwinds. Twenty percent of American farm revenue comes from exports and America’s farmers, ranchers, food processors, and manufacturers rely on complex and highly integrated supply chains that stretch across international borders. The food and agriculture products we export support over 1,000,000 U.S. jobs. As such, a pro-food and agriculture trade policy is a worker-centered trade policy. Swift confirmation of Mr. McKalip and Ms. Taylor is vital in supporting these U.S. workers, delivering for rural communities, and competing in global markets.
President Biden announced his intent to nominate Ms. Taylor and Mr. McKalip in May and June respectively. The Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously on September 27th to advance Ms. Taylor’s nomination. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Mr. McKalip’s nomination on September 7th. Despite unanimous bipartisan support by the committees and widespread and bipartisan support in the full Senate, holds by three Senators have delayed approval for these highly skilled candidates. Time is of the essence to resolve these holds and confirm the nominees.
American agriculture needs experienced leaders representing us in international negotiations. We urge the U.S. Senate to confirm Alexis Taylor and Doug McKalip by the end of this year and appreciate your assistance with this critical matter.
Agribusiness Association of Iowa
American Cotton Shippers Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Peanut Council
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Animal Health Institute
Biotechnology Innovation Organization
California Walnut Commission
Corn Refiners Association
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Farmers for Free Trade
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
Global Cold Chain Alliance
International Dairy Foods Association
Iowa Soybean Association
Leather and Hide Council of America
Meat Import Council of America
Michigan Agri-Business Association
Michigan Bean Shippers
Michigan Farm Bureau
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Confectioners Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Grain and Feed Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Potato Council
National Sorghum Producers
National Turkey Federation
North American Export Grain Association
North American Meat Institute
North American Millers’ Association
North American Renderers Association
Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance
Northwest Horticultural Council
Ohio AgriBusiness Association
Oregon Feed & Grain Association
Pet Food Institute
Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc.
Reckitt – Mead Johnson Nutrition
Sweetener Users Association
Texas Grain and Feed Association
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
World Perspectives, Inc.