Richard Crowder, a longtime economist and agribusiness leader who served as former chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative during the George W. Bush administration, has died at the age of 84.

Crowder, who also served as USDA’s undersecretary of international affairs and commodity programs under then-President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992, later became senior vice president of DeKalb Genetics Corp. and served as president of the American Seed Trade Association before joining USTR in 2006, according to his obituary.

In a comment posted with the obituary, Jean-Luc Demarty, the European Commission’s former director general for agriculture and trade, reflected on his experience negotiating with Crowder.

“There was enormous mutual respect between us. His competence, his loyalty, his devotion to US farmers were outstanding. His rectitude was impressive. He had a rare quality among trade negotiators, telling the truth. At the end of the day, it is the best way to set up trust between negotiators,” Demarty said. 

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Crowder, the son of a Virginia tenant farmer, had a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in economics from Oklahoma State University, and worked for several corporations, including Exxon and the Pillsbury Co., before serving at USDA from 1989 and 1992, according to the obituary.

In 2008, he joined the faculty of Virginia Tech.

He received the American Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 2013.

He served on the board of the Farm Foundation from 2009 to 2019 and also a member of the boards of Mendel Biotechnology and Neogen.

A funeral for Crowder was held Sunday in Baskerville, Virginia.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret Taylor Rainey Crowder of Baskerville and Minneapolis, two sons, Richard Morgan Crowder of Denver and Matthew Blackwell Crowder of Atlanta, and his sister Linda C. McClellan of Baskerville.

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