U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA, a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture.
“Food is a noble thing to trade. This nation has a great story to tell and we've got producers here that produce more than we can consume,” said Secretary Perdue. “And that’s good, because I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy. Our people in American agriculture have shown they can grow it, and we’re here to sell it in markets al l around the world.”
Additionally, a new undersecretary will be selected for a newly named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which is to focus on domestic agricultural issues. Locating FSA, RMA and the NRCS under this domestically oriented undersecretary will provide a simplified one-stop shop for USDA’s primary customers, the men and women farming, ranching and foresting across America, the USDA says.
Under the reorganization plan, the undersecretary for natural resources and environment will retain supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. A reduction in USDA workforce is not part of the reorganization plan.
The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) released a press statement applauding the changes.
“The National Corn Growers Assn. has long advocated for a dedicated position at USDA focused on increasing U.S. agricultural exports, and we pushed for this provision in the 2014 farm bill. We are pleased to see that post finally become a reality today,” says NCGA president Wesley Spurlock.
“Secretary Perdue’s announcement signals to farm country that the Trump Administration is listening to America’s farmers and ranchers. In this farm economy, trade is more important than ever to farmers’ incomes. Overseas markets represent 73% of the world’s purchasing power, 87% of economic growth, and 95% of the world’s customers. Now is the time for U.S. agriculture to fully capitalize on the long-term, increased global demand for our products around the world. Today’s announcement is a big step toward that goal.
“NCGA looks forward to working with Secretary Perdue, the new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and others throughout the Administration to ensure more consumers around the world are consuming American corn and corn products.”
The American Soybean Assn. (ASA), also expressed strong support for the establishment of an Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at USDA.
“The U.S. exports well over half of the soybeans we produce, and agriculture is one of only a handful of business sectors in the country with a positive trade balance — $17 billion last year," says ASA president Ron Moore. "That success abroad leads to success here at home, returning billions to the economy and supporting more than a million jobs. To have USDA recognize the importance of farm trade by creating this position is very encouraging, and we appreciate the administration’s foresight in doing so. We know that President Trump has big ideas on trade, and it will be imperative to have high-level officials within the administration who understand the intricacies of global agriculture markets. Secretary Perdue has shown himself to be an advocate for agricultural trade, and the new Undersecretary will be a similarly major part of those conversations.
“Concerning a reorganization this comprehensive, ASA will need time to evaluate the impacts of the shift in mission areas, and any potential reallocation of resources to determine their effects on soybean farmers. We will review the new structure with a careful eye, looking to make sure that the new USDA increases efficiency, while keeping its commitment to expanding markets both at home and abroad for farmers; investing in rural infrastructure and development; meeting conservation goals; and helping U.S. farmers maintain their role as providers of food for the world’s hungry.”