WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2017 – Ray Starling, a key aide to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, has been named to the senior staff of the National Economic Council where he’ll serve as President Trump’s special assistant for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance.
Starling has been serving as Tillis’ chief of staff. He previously was the first term senator’s general counsel and senior policy advisor. From 2012 to January 2015, he was general counsel to Tillis who was then Speaker of the House in the North Carolina Legislature. Before that he was general counsel to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The White House also noted that Starling has private practice experience from several years at the Hunton & Williams law firm and has taught numerous agricultural and food law courses. After growing up on a Century Family Farm in southeast North Carolina, Starling received a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from North Carolina State and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Starling’s appointment to the National Economic Council was one of 13 announced today by NEC Director Gary Cohn.
“We have assembled a best-in-class team of policy advisors to drive President Trump’s bold plan for job creation and economic growth,” Cohn said in a release. “With their diverse backgrounds and deep knowledge of key policy issues, they will make significant contributions to the Nation.”
Several agricultural organizations were quick to applaud Starling’s appointment.
National Pork Producers Council President John Weber, noting that Starling was filling a position left vacant for most of the Obama administration, called him a “true champion of American agriculture.”
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“President Trump is sending a clear signal of his commitment to reverse unnecessary regulations inhibiting pork producers and all U.S. farmers from doing what they do best: supplying the world with the most nutritious, affordable and abundant food available,” Weber said.
The National Cotton Council also approved of the appointment. NCC Chairman Ronnie Lee said this is the first time in his memory that a president had filled this position so early in his administration.
“I believe this is a clear sign of President Trump’s commitment to agriculture and rural America. We look forward to working with President Trump as we try to develop an effective and comprehensive safety net for cotton producers and as Congress develops a new farm bill."
Colin Woodall, senior vice president of government affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the appointment was “great news, not just for America’s cattle producers, but for America’s entire economy.”
“In short, Ray Starling gets it,” Woodall said. “He has a sharp understanding of how the economy works, and especially how the agricultural sector operates and benefits the citizens of every state in the nation, while also providing the world’s safest and most prosperous food supply. This is an A-plus appointment, and we look forward to working with Ray and the rest of the president’s team on behalf of the American beef industry.”
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