Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is blocking the speedy movement of Doug McKalip’s nomination to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, a position U.S. farm groups and farm states have been eager to see filled as quickly as possible.

According to a spokesperson, Menendez employed the hold to call attention to his hopes to receive assurances from the Office of the USTR to “establish greater oversight and transparency of U.S. trade policy led by the agency.

“As he awaits commitments and specific actions to this end, he opposes confirmation of this nominee as a way to send the clearest signal that he firmly believes Americans deserve honest and transparent trade policy that prioritizes the economic interests of the country and cracks down on waste, fraud, and abuse,” the spokesperson added.

Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among the Senate Finance Committee members who unanimously advanced McKalip’s nomination on Sept. 7.

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse!

U.S. farm groups say they are growing impatient and want to see McKalip — currently a USDA adviser — move across the Senate floor. More than 100 U.S. farm groups recently sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to give McKalip a speedy floor vote.

“We write with strong concern over further delay because we are reminded daily of the need for greater attention and emphasis from the administration on agricultural export market growth,” the groups said in the letter.

For more news, go to