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Vilsack adviser nominated for U.S. chief agricultural negotiator

In his second attempt to fill the post, President Biden nominated Doug McKalip on Wednesday to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, working with U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. The post has been vacant since Biden took office, to the increasing dismay of farm-state lawmakers and the agribusiness sector.

Since March 2021, McKalip has worked as trade adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He was director of the White House Rural Council during the Obama era and worked on agriculture and rural issues as a staff member of the White House Domestic Policy Council. During three decades in the federal government, McKalip has held a variety of USDA posts, including acting chief of staff for Vilsack during his first stint as agriculture secretary.

Senate Finance chairman Ron Wyden said McKalip “has an impressive history” in promoting U.S. agricultural products. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the nomination.

“The chief agricultural negotiator position is essential when it comes to growing new markets abroad and protecting our producers from unfair trade practices,” said Senate Agriculture chair Debbie Stabenow. “That’s why I’ve led my colleagues in urging the White House to fill this important position.”

McKalip “has worked on every aspect of farming” during his years at the USDA and the White House, said Vilsack. He said McKalip “has demonstrated a consistent ability to tackle difficult issues and to develop bipartisan solutions to challenges when opposing views exist.”

Biden initially nominated Elaine Trevino, a California agriculture executive, for the agricultural negotiator’s post last September. She withdrew from consideration four months later after running into opposition in the Senate.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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