U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced Friday he’s chosen Julie Callahan – an FDA and USDA alumnus – to work side-by-side with Ambassador Gregg Doud, representing the interests of the U.S. ag sector around the globe.

Callahan will replace Sharon Bomer Lauritsen as the assistant USTR for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, a role she has been doing in an acting capacity since Bomer Lauritsen retired in April, and the announcement is being met with cheers.

“She’ll do a fantastic job working there with Gregg Doud,” said North American Meat Institute  Senior Vice President of International Affairs William Westman, who worked together with Callahan at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. “She’s very impressive and (the ag community) is delighted that she’s there.”

Callahan won't have to make a huge transition. Most recently she was a senior director in the USTR’s Agricultural Affairs Office, where she focused on the EU, U.K., Turkey and Eastern Europe.

Craig Thorn, founder of DTB Associates, called Bomer Lauritsen’s retirement “a big loss,” but stressed that Callahan “is definitely capable of filling her shoes.”

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“I like the fact that they’ve chosen someone who has a background in regulation issues because that’s where many of the most difficult problems are right now,” he said. “We’re dealing with (sanitary and phytosanitary) barriers around the world and it’s important to have an understanding of those issues to do that job properly.”

Ongoing U.S. negotiations with Britain and the EU are two prime examples. U.S.-U.K. trade talks are scheduled to resume next week and U.S. negotiators are still grappling with the recent British proclamation that it won’t negotiate on regulations that effectively ban most U.S. poultry and beef.

“Her extensive knowledge and experience make Dr. Callahan a perfect fit for this key position,” Lighthizer said about Callahan in a statement. “As the Trump Administration continues to fight for better access to foreign markets for our farmers and ranchers, her leadership is essential.”

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