A diverse group of food and agriculture organizations sent a letter to Senate leaders Chuck Shumer and Mitch McConnell calling for the swift confirmation of important agriculture positions.
The groups request them to secure the confirmation of Doug McKalip as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Alexis Taylor as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at USDA by the end of 2022.
“Despite unanimous support by the committees and widespread and bipartisan support the Senate has yet to confirm these highly skilled candidates,” the letter states. “Time is of the essence to confirm these nominees.”
The letter also emphasizes the importance of trade to the U.S. economy – and how these two roles are crucial to the success of U.S. trade relationships. Ag groups say several countries are outpacing the U.S. in completing new trade agreements and securing benefits in trade policies.
“While other countries are entering into new trade deals, our two key agriculture trade officials remain unconfirmed two years into the Biden Administration,” the groups write. “This is unacceptable and is damaging the competitiveness of U.S. food and agriculture.”
President Biden announced his intent to nominate Alexis Taylor and Doug McKalip in May and June respectively. The Senate Finance Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee both voted unanimously to approve the nominations in September.
McKalip, who currently serves as a top adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on trade, ag safety and national security, has over 30 years of federal public experience and the support of over 100 agricultural organizations.
Taylor is the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. She is an Iowa native and spent 12 years in Washington D.C. where her work focused on U.S. agricultural and trade policy.