WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2013 – With the majority of the five Commodity Futures Trading Commissioners likely to be leaving by the end of this year, nineteen agricultural organizations asked President Barack Obama to make sure at least one of his nominees has a background in agricultural commodity futures markets.
In a letter signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, CoBank, National Farmers Union, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grain and Feed Association and others, the groups pointed to the CFTC’s roots within USDA, dating back to 1922 when it was the Grain Futures Administration. The CFTC became an independent agency in 1974.
“While futures have grown beyond agricultural commodities and the CFTC’s regulatory footprint has been recently expanded into swaps, the agricultural futures markets remain as integral to our businesses as they were before the financial innovation that led us to today’s derivatives markets,” the groups wrote. “Throughout the agency’s existence there have always been Commissioners that intricately understood agricultural futures markets, as well as the underlying physical markets themselves.”
“This is a critical time in the agency’s history as it further expands its mission into financial markets, but we cannot allow the core mission of regulating agricultural futures markets to suffer for it,” the groups wrote in asking for a new appointee with an agricultural futures background, similar to Commissioner Bart Chilton who had extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at USDA.
With the upcoming departure of Chilton “in the not too distant future,” the departure of Commissioner Jill Sommers earlier this year and Chairman Gary Gensler’s announcement that he also will step down at the end of the year, there will be three vacancies.
However, the president already nominated Timothy Massad as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during an announcement at the White House this afternoon. And in August, President Obama nominated Christopher Giancarlo to fill the open Republican spot on the commission – left open after Jill Sommers departed - but he has not yet been confirmed by the Senate
All appointments are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.