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Meat Institute Praises USDA Move to Establish Under Secretary for Trade

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Washington, DC—North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter praised today’s announcement that USDA will establish an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. The Meat Institute has actively supported creating the position for many years and joined with several food and agriculture industry partners in a February letter to President Trump urging the administration to reorganize USDA’s trade structure as required by a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA’s trade roles have remained unchanged since the last reorganization in 1978.

“USDA’s current trade structure is outdated and needs streamlining to keep pace with the current trade challenges in the global marketplace,” said Carpenter.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.”

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