U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio today to make a USDA reorganization announcement at Consolidated Grain and Barge. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Farmers Know the Benefits of Trade, Secretary Perdue laid out his plans for the reorganization saying, “We’re creating a new undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, whose focus will be on promoting U.S. food, fiber and fuel around the world. This realignment will help me, as agriculture secretary, to be an unapologetic advocate for American products. My message for farmers is simple: ‘You grow it and we’ll sell it.’”

The North American Meat Institute issued a state praising the move, adding that it has championed the creation of such a role for several years.

“USDA’s current trade structure is outdated and needs streamlining to keep pace with the current trade challenges in the global marketplace,” said Meat Institute CEO Barry Carpenter. “An Under Secretary for Trade will bring unified high level, agriculture-focused representation to key trade negotiations with senior, foreign officials and within the Executive Branch to help grow trade opportunities around the world.”

 Meat and poultry represented just three percent of U.S. exports when USDA’s organizational structure was last changed in 1978. Today meat and poultry represent 15 percent of exports representing more than $16 billion in value. However, significant barriers to trade remain. Over the last 40 years the challenges that U.S. agriculture faces in global markets have increased and markedly changed from primarily tariff barriers to phytosanitary and other non-tariff trade barriers.

“Trade is essential to the economic vitality of the U.S. and agricultural trade not only benefits our economy but also helps feed millions around the world,” said Carpenter. “USDA is now positioned to appoint an Under Secretary with extensive experience in international trade negotiation and policy issues who can advocate for the importance of science based agricultural trade.”

Source: USDA, NAMI