Indian Rice Subsidy Concerns Raised at Senate Ag Committee Confirmation Hearing for USDA Trade Under Secretary Nominee Alexis Taylor

Alexis Taylor, Philip Gerlach photo, white woman w/dark hair and dark-rimmed glasses sits in front of computer & microphone
Nominee Alexis Taylor (photo by Philip Gerlach)
Sep 22, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a long-awaited confirmation hearing for Alexis Taylor, nominee for the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA).  The White House announced their intent to nominate Taylor in May of this year.

Taylor most recently served as the appointed Director of Agriculture for the State of Oregon, a position she has held since December 2016.  Prior to that role, she spent several years as the USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, the mission area that preceded the creation of TFAA.  Before joining USDA, Taylor worked for several U.S. Members of Congress.

Senator Boozman (R-AR) and Ranking Member of the Committee remarked that he met with Taylor yesterday on the importance of “holding India accountable at the WTO for their illegal rice and wheat subsidies, and looks forward to working with her on that important issue.”

Senator Hyde-Smith (R-MS) asked Taylor, “Rice production in the Southeast generates hundreds of millions in economic output and helps put affordable food on our plates both at home and abroad.  But the producers in Mississippi and across the country continue to operate at a disadvantage to major competitors like India, which over-subsidize their farmers and violate WTO obligations.  If confirmed as Under Secretary, will you help lead the charge at USDA and work closely with the Office of the United States Trade Representative to ensure that our domestic producers operate on a level playing field with foreign producers?”

Taylor responded, saying, “One of my fundamentals around trade policy is ensuring that we are enforcing existing commitments that have been made to the United States, regardless of whether it’s in a bilateral, multilateral, or plurilateral sense, such as the WTO.  Should I be confirmed, I’m very interested in looking into this issue, engaging with your rice producers in Mississippi and your office to look into it further.”

As reported in the USA Rice Daily on May 16, 2022, Taylor has an impressive résumé, starting with her upbringing on her family’s farm in Iowa.  While still in high school, she enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves and her sophomore year in college, her army unit was deployed to Iraq, where she served with the 389th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Once Taylor’s nomination is cleared by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, it must be cleared by the full Senate before she can formally assume the role.

Taylor’s soon-to-be counterpart at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, Doug McKalip, is still awaiting confirmation by the full Senate after unanimously clearing the Senate Finance Committee two weeks ago.
“We joined 104 other organizations in calling for the Senate’s swift confirmation of Doug as the Chief Ag Negotiator, but timing appears to still be up in the air,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “With limited time left before Congress breaks until the midterm elections, we hope there’s enough pressure to quickly confirm both Doug and Alexis to their critical political trade roles.”