The Senate today confirmed Gregg Doud (center in the above photo) to be the next chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, bringing key new manpower to the agency as it renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement and chases new free trade agreements in Asia.

“I’m pleased the U.S. Senate has advanced Gregg’s nomination,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts about the fellow Kansan who was once chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Our hard-working farmers, ranchers, end-users, and folks in rural America have waited too long to be represented at the trade negotiating table.”

Doud, who received strong bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee, has stressed agriculture should not be harmed during the NAFTA talks. He has also said he doesn’t want to wait to begin new talks that could lead to new markets for U.S. farm commodities.

“Keeping in mind that the evolution of more liberalized trade in agricultural products takes a great deal of patience, we must also get started today in planting new trees of market access even though it may take time before we’re able to enjoy some shade from such efforts,” Doud told members of the Senate Finance Committee last October. “In this category, India certainly comes to mind as a place, which, before long, could grow to be the most heavily populated nation on the planet.”

And groups like NCBA have high hopes for what Doud will accomplish.

“We’re excited that the Senate has moved forward with this,” Kent Bacus, NCBA’s international trade director, told Agri-Pulse. “Whether it’s with NAFTA or (the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea) or any other issues, we’re excited that Gregg’s going to be at the table to represent all of U.S. agriculture.”

Now that President Donald Trump has said he would consider the possibility of the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries, Bacus said he hopes Doud will make that a priority.

Japan would have brought its tariffs on U.S. beef exports down from 38 percent to just 9 percent under TPP, giving the U.S. a better chance to compete with countries like Australia. One of the first things Trump did after taking office last year was pull the U.S. out of the TPP.

The Senate also today approved Dennis Shea to be USTR’s top official at the World Trade Organization in Geneva and C. J. Mahoney to be the deputy USTR responsible for trade in Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere.

“In meeting with Mr. Mahoney, what impressed me the most was his understanding of how trade decisions affect businesses and individuals across our state of Kansas,” Sen. Roberts said in a statement released today. “C.J. understands how important it is for the U.S. to be a reliable supplier to our current trading partners, but also, to expand markets to sell our products. This is especially important now, due to the rough patch the farm economy is currently facing.”


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