July 6, 2022
Fargo, US 84 F

Ag Senators, Witnesses Say Biden Ag Team Nods Late, Trade Agenda Weak

Ag Senators from both parties and industry leaders say President Biden’s Ag trade nominations are late and his trade agenda, especially on market access, is lacking. It’s taken 17 months or more for President Biden to nominate USDA policy adviser Doug McKalip for USTR Chief Ag Negotiator and Oregon Ag Director Alexis Taylor for USDA Trade Undersecretary.

Senate Ag trade subcommittee Chair and Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock says that’s too long. “But, let’s face it, it took too long to get these nominees, but I believe they are well qualified.”

Panel Republicans echoed that view and questioned witnesses about the White House’s lack of market-opening free trade deals. Sheryl Meshke heads Associated Milk Producers in New Ulm, Minnesota. “We believe that FTAs are critical, that we need to get back in the game of establishing those agreements, particularly that two-way trade relationship with Southeast Asia, Japan, and the U.K.”

North Dakota Wheat Commission Administrator Neal Fisher talked about the lack of market access deals, including in the Biden Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

“I worry about losing traction in part of the Indo-Pacific area because I don’t see that element. I look at Africa and I look at some of the things that we had started in that process, and we’re not following up on, right now, but, Latin America’s another good example, and it’s been in the news, just lately.”

Fisher argues that the U.S. is risking ceding market demand to China. Biden Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai told Senate Finance lawmakers earlier that traditional FTAs have generated “considerable backlash” over “offshoring and outsourcing” U.S. jobs—a main complaint of the administration’s union allies.

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