May 11, 2017
Perdue made the announcement standing by barges filled with agricultural products along the banks of the Ohio River. Photo credit: @OhioFarmBureau
MONTGOMERY, Ala., May 11 — The Alabama Farmers Federation today joined farm groups nationwide in praising U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s creation of a trade and foreign agriculture affairs undersecretary as part of reorganizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“The reorganization initiated by Secretary Perdue is encouraging,” said Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker. “By adding an undersecretary solely focused on trade, Secretary Perdue shows he is serious about increasing export opportunities for American products. Other moves to restructure the department indicate a renewed commitment to better serve farmers.”
Congress called for creating an undersecretary for trade in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the previous administration delayed implementing the plan. In announcing the position, Perdue highlighted agriculture’s importance to America’s economy.
“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,” Perdue said. “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 all around the world.”
As part of reorganizing the USDA, Perdue also announced a new Farm Production and Conservation mission area and elevation of Rural Development agencies, which will now report directly to the secretary of agriculture.
Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, has been a consistent and vocal supporter of creating the trade undersecretary position.
“Quite frankly, our farmers and ranchers can compete with any country in the world if we are given a level playing field,” Aderholt said. “An undersecretary of trade whose whole mission is to ensure that we have open markets to provide proteins and produce will only make our rural economy that much stronger. I am encouraged that one of Secretary Perdue’s first acts is to establish this new undersecretary. This position will raise the profile of the American economy’s agricultural sector and focus on promoting American goods overseas.”
Perdue’s announcement came the same day the U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative. An Ohio native, Lighthizer previously served as a deputy trade representative during the Reagan administration and was chief of staff for the Senate Committee on Finance. He is partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm where he focuses on trade litigation, policy advice and legislative initiatives.
Click here to read the USDA release on today’s announcement.