McKalip confirmed as USTR’s chief ag negotiator, Esteban to USDA Thursday

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Doug McKalip to serve as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.  Senators also confirmed Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban to serve as Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thursday.

In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says McKalip has generated broad, bipartisan support from Members of Congress, governors, and state agriculture commissioners – as well as strong endorsements from key stakeholders since his nomination in June.

Tai says McKalip will represent the interests of farmers, ranchers, producers, and workers, including expanding market access for their products and he will further enhance the strong collaboration between USTR and USDA.

Reactions to the confirmation have been quick and positive.

Dan Halstrom is with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.  He says, “It’s been a long time coming.  There’s been a lot of issues around the world that we need a seat at the table at, and Doug McKalip comes with a wealth of knowledge and background, and we’re looking forward to working with him very closely.” Halstrom says the U.S. needs both trade negotiators on the job during this important time.  “We have the Indo-Pacific economic framework that’s top of mind as we, you know, exit 2022 and enter 2023.  We also have, you know,  outstanding discussions going on with Kenya and Taiwan.”

The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council immediately praised the confirmation, saying McKalip understands the value that comprehensive trade agreements have brought to American farmers and ranchers, and they encourage him to be a vocal advocate for new agricultural market access opportunities.

Brody Stapel with Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative says they are pleased with the recent confirmations. “It is essential for the United States to open more doors around the world for exporting the food our dairy farmers and processors produce. As demand continues to grow for dairy products, we see opportunities in markets across the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere that can be further developed. Equally important is that all trade agreements are fundamentally fair.”

Brian Kuehl with Farmers for Free Trade says Thursday’s confirmation of McKelip and Wednesday’s confirmation of Alexis Taylor as USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs is important.  He says this duo’s incredible wealth of experience fighting for pro-food and agriculture trade policy is desperately needed right now, and it will be important that they draw on their years of expertise to help open opportunities in foreign markets and ensure we are not being outpaced by our global competitors.

American Soybean Association President and Illinois farmer Daryl Cates says these two Senate votes for Taylor and McKalip cap off months of advocacy by ASA and other agricultural groups to see them confirmed to key agricultural trade positions.  Cates says their responsibilities and how they work with farmers on trade, markets and more, is essential to their day-to-day jobs out on the farm.

In a joint statement, U.S Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers praised McKalip, saying his work in conservation, with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and recent negotiations with the Mexican government on biotech issues match up perfectly with some of the most important agricultural trade barriers.  USW President Vince Peterson says McKalip is well prepared for this position, and we look forward to working with him to open and grow overseas markets for U.S. wheat.”

Ethan Lane with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says NCBA is pleased that the Senate confirmed such a qualified nominee in McKalip, who can now get to work promoting new trade opportunities that benefit American cattle producers.  On the confirmation of Dr. Esteban, Lane says they have worked with him before, and Dr. Esteban’s new role is critical for ensuring consumer confidence in the beef industry.  

Senate Ag Committee members Debbie Stabenow and John Boozman, and House Ag Committee Chair David Scott were also pleased with the confirmations.

Doug McKalip is in his 29th year of federal service as an agriculture policy leader and trade expert. He has served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and in a leadership capacity with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 

Esteban and McKalip’s confirmation comes one day after the Senate confirmed Alexis Taylor as USDA’s Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.  The two trade positions went unfilled for nearly two years.

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