US dairy sees ‘strong advocate’ in nominee Gregg Doud as USTR chief agricultural negotiator

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

NMPF's SVP of trade policy belives Doud would bring a focus on expanding US export opportunities, including initiating new trade deals in other markets. ©GettyImages/_jure
NMPF's SVP of trade policy belives Doud would bring a focus on expanding US export opportunities, including initiating new trade deals in other markets. ©GettyImages/_jure

Related tags International trade Us

USDEC and NMPF have urged the US Senate to swiftly approve Gregg Doud as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) where he will work with Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer on advancing US international trade deals.

Doud was nominated for the role by US President Donald Trump in June 2017, but his nomination was put on hold by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) over a proposed seasonal produce proposal to NAFTA: Flake argued it would hurt American farmers and increase costs for US consumers.

The US Senate Committee on Finance approved Doud for the position in October 2017, and late last week Flake lifted the block on Doud’s nomination.

Speaking to DairyReporter, NMPF senior vice president of strategic initiatives and trade policy Jaime Castaneda said: “Holding the confirmation of Gregg Doud wasn’t the best way to address these concerns. Now that that hold has been lifted then we can actually get the senate to swiftly confirm him as the next ambassador.”

“Given the importance of US agriculture and what’s at stake for them in the NAFTA negotiations, I am pleased that this nomination can move forward,”​ Flake said in a statement.

US trade expectations and priorities

Exports have become increasingly important to the US dairy industry, growing from a value of $1bn in 2000 to more than $7bn in 2014, before hitting a dip in prices to $5bn in 2016.

"America's dairy farmers depend on carefully calibrated trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the US-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS),"​ NMPF President Jim Mulhern said. "We need a strong advocate for agriculture in the USTR during this crucial period."

There are issues US dairy hopes will ultimately be addressed by the USTR, according to Castaneda.

“There’s going to be defending the interest of American agriculture in current negotiations like NAFTA and Korea, but also opening markets with bilateral discussions with, for instance, China, but also promoting internally the initiation of trade agreements,” ​he said.

“The President has stated very clearly that we he wanted to have smart, intelligent trade agreements. Well we need to start working on that; we are falling way behind in trade agreements if you compare us with our competitors like Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.”

In a statement, Doud told the US Senate Committee on Finance in October that as chief agricultural negotiator he would work to reduce trade barriers to US agriculture and secure greater market access for American farmers, mentioning Japan and India as key export markets.

As I have discussed with Ambassador Lighthizer, when it comes to trade agreements, US agriculture plays offense. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers grow world class products and should be able to export to any market in the world and be competitive,”​ Doud said.

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