USTR Ag Negotiator Nominated and Acting Deputy Under Secretaries at USDA Named to Keep the Ball Moving

Jun 20, 2017
Clockwise from left: Doud, Hafemeister,
Jiron, Johansson
GA-Acting Under Secretaries at USDA Named to Keep the Ball Moving-170620

WASHINGTON, DC – President Trump has nominated the Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and at long last some crucial acting undersecretaries have been named at the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Agriculture veteran Gregg Doud has been nominated to serve as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR.  Doud is president of the Commodity Markets Council, a trade organization for commodity futures exchanges and their industry counterparts, and served for eight years as the chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  Doud remains a part owner of his family’s 100+ year old Kansas farm.

Doud’s nomination will require Senate confirmation which is not currently scheduled.  He succeeds Ambassador Darci Vetter who held the post under President Obama and addressed USA Rice members on multiple occasions during the now defunct Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

“Gregg is a seasoned and well-respected farm and trade policy veteran,” said Ben Mosely, Vice President of Government Affairs for USA Rice.  “Having worked in the Senate and in the private sector on behalf of agriculture, Gregg is well-versed in procedure and has played a major role in the development of policies that benefit U.S. farmers. He understands the intricacies of phytosanitary issues and other trade barriers we face, and he also has a deep knowledge of commodities markets.  We support Greg's nomination and will work with the Senate to see that his confirmation advances as quickly as possible.”

Additionally, Secretary Perdue has appointed three USDA veterans to acting under secretary roles that are part of the reorganization he announced last month.  The acting USDA officials named this week may not ultimately fill the posts, however, since it is suspected none of the posts will be filled by White House-nominated, Senate-confirmed appointees until September, it was important to place experienced leaders in these positions to help solidify the chain of command at the department.

Jason Hafemeister, a 20-year veteran at USDA, has been named acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs.  The position is a new one, created with the 2014 Farm Bill, that USA Rice has been urging both this Administration, and the previous one, to fill. 

The position, that will have authority over the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), is important in particular to the rice industry, since about half of the annual crop is exported each year to more than 100 countries.

Robert Johansson, a USDA economist since 2001, has been named acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation – a new position that will have authority over the Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Dan Jiron, the current Associate Chief of the Forest Service with 29 years in natural resources management experience, has been appointed acting Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

“Acting or not, these are good, knowledgeable choices who will ensure the important work of the department can go forward,” said Mosely.  “We look forward to working with the new Under Secretaries and assisting them any way we can.”