USTR Alum Receives 2020 USA Rice Industry Award

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen (older white woman with white hair and red-rimmed glasses) holds framed photo of combine in rice field
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen
Oct 20, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, USA Rice presented a 2020 USA Rice Industry Award to longtime public servant and rice industry ally Sharon Bomer Lauritsen.

Bomer Lauritsen retired from her post as agriculture’s Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in April 2020 after more than 16 collective years at USTR.  Her career also included stints at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Congress, and several private sector agriculture trade organizations spanning more than 35 years of government policy experience.

As the highest-ranking career negotiator for U.S. agriculture, Bomer Lauritsen was involved in nearly every major trade negotiation and dozens of minor agreements since taking the job in 2011.  A few of her major contributions for all of U.S. agriculture included work on the agriculture, market access, and sanitary and phytosanitary chapters of the U.S.-China Phase One Agreement, U.S.-Japan Agreement, U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.  Specific to rice, she was on the frontlines for the finalization and implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, helped achieve the long-fought U.S. rice country-specific quota agreement with South Korea last year, was at the table for the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement, and helped USA Rice achieve access into China after nearly a decade of phytosanitary negotiations.

Bomer Lauritsen and her team worked hand-in-hand with their colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist USA Rice with regular technical exchanges and helped resolve many phytosanitary challenges throughout her tenure.

“I saw firsthand how tirelessly Sharon worked for not only the rice industry’s trade priorities but also for all of agriculture over the years,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “From the after-hours calls and visits to USTR headquarters with USA Rice staff and members, Sharon always made herself available and served us well as a ‘straight shooter,’ making her more than deserving of this award.”

Despite the challenge of rice’s near-universal sensitivity across trade negotiations, Bomer Lauritsen fought for, made progress toward, and protected existing market access agreements for U.S. rice farmers and exporters.

“We are sad to lose her as a champion at the USTR, but we wish Sharon well in her future endeavors in retirement and private sector consulting business,” said Ward.