President Joe Biden intends to nominate Doug McKalip, a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, to be chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
McKalip, a familiar face in the halls of USDA for years, was named as one of Vilsack’s advisers on “matters relating to trade, national security, animal and plant health regulations, and a wide portfolio of domestic and international issues” in April last year, according to the White House.
In a statement, Vilsack said McKalip is "highly qualified and exceptionally capable" of serving in the position.
"Having served as a key agriculture policy official for nearly three decades, he has worked on every aspect of farming from soil conservation, and the supply chain to dealing with sensitive trade and national security matters," Vilsack said. "Through his service, he has represented American farmers around the world and advocated for U.S. agricultural products and technology."
USTR Katherine Tai, McKalip's boss if confirmed by the Senate, called McKalip a "highly qualified nominee with decades of experience in public service."
“Since taking office, the Biden Administration has expanded market access for our agricultural industry and delivered U.S. agricultural products to customers around the world," she said, specifically citing potato trade with Mexico, pork trade with Vietnam and beef trade with Japan as examples. “USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator will play a pivotal role in maintaining and building on these successes on behalf of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers, and producers. Doug McKalip is a highly qualified nominee with decades of experience in public service."
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McKalip previously was a senior adviser at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; before that, he worked on rural affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council as well as filled several USDA positions such as legislative and public affairs director for Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"The Chief Agricultural Negotiator position is essential when it comes to growing new markets abroad and protecting our producers from unfair trade practices,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “That’s why I’ve led my colleagues in urging the White House to fill this important position. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I look forward to reviewing Mr. McKalip’s nomination.”
If confirmed, McKalip would be the first Biden administration official to hold the chief ag negotiator role. Elaine Trevino was nominated for the position in September 2021 but withdrew from consideration in March.
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