Agriculture Secretary Vilsack says the new Ag trade team of Alexis Taylor and Doug McKalip is now in place, ready to get results for U.S. producers.
Taylor and McKalip were both confirmed to their trade posts by the Senate last month; Taylor to head USDA’s Foreign Ag Service as Undersecretary for Trade, McKalip as Chief Ag Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
Vilsack spoke recently on finally having a trade team in place halfway through the Biden Administration; “Having Alexis Taylor now, as the undersecretary, gives us the opportunity to expand significantly the reach of our efforts, gives us someone with experience, both in terms of having worked at USDA in the Foreign Ag Service, as well as having been the director of agriculture for the state of Oregon, that was very much focused on trade.”
While Doug McKalip has left USDA as a top adviser to Vilsack; “While we’re sad to lose Doug McKalip, who’s done an amazing job as a career person, here at USDA, I think he is primed to be an extraordinary helper and assistant to Ambassador Tai at (the) U.S. Trade Representative’s office, and I think it’s going to ensure that we have a champion for U.S. agriculture.”
While lawmakers of both parties complain President Biden has taken too long to get his Ag trade team in place and opted against new market opening trade deals, Vilsack points to two back-to-back record years in Ag trade.
The Secretary credits USDA trade shows and foreign market assistance and development programs.