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U.S. Senate confirms Taylor as USDA trade undersecretary

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By SIERRA DAWN McCLAIN
Capital Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Alexis Taylor, former Oregon Department of Agriculture director, as USDA’s new top agricultural trade official.

The White House in May had nominated Taylor to be USDA’s undersecretary for trade and foreign affairs — an ambassador responsible for overseeing international negotiations related to agricultural trade, developing USDA’s trade policies, opening foreign markets to U.S. farm goods and promoting American agriculture.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in September advanced Taylor’s nomination to the full Senate, and for the past few months, farm groups have been urging the Senate to confirm Taylor.

In the September hearing, Taylor told senators what her priorities will be as a trade leader.

Taylor said she will work with the U.S. Trade Representative on a path toward country-of-origin labeling that is World Trade Organization-compliant, hold Canada and Mexico to their commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, try to expand export markets for dairy and other farm products within the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and work to contain Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza cases without disrupting markets.

Industry leaders and commodity groups on Wednesday welcomed Taylor’s confirmation.

“I’m confident Alexis Taylor will do a great job in this important role at USDA and I’m pleased she was finally confirmed,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said he expects Taylor will navigate U.S. agriculture through “growing global challenges” and help expand export markets.

“I have worked with Alexis (Taylor) for over 15 years, and I know the agriculture industry will benefit immensely from her expertise,” said Goule.

Another wheat industry leader, Vince Peterson of U.S. Wheat Associates, said Taylor “understands just how important it is to maintain a strong promotional effort in export markets.”

The vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane, also expressed his support of Taylor’s confirmation.

“We have worked closely with Ms. Taylor in her previous roles at USDA and on Capitol Hill, and she is a proven advocate for farmers and ranchers,” said Lane.

U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO Dan Halstrom said he expects Taylor will be a “champion for U.S. agriculture” in her new position.

National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern said he looks forward to working with Taylor to make sure the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and other trade initiatives include export opportunities for agriculture. He also hopes to work with Taylor to ensure the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, or USMCA, is “fully and fairly implemented.”

“We are extremely pleased that the Senate has confirmed Ms. Taylor,” said Mulhern.

Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, also welcomed Taylor’s confirmation.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Ted McKinney said Taylor will bring to her new role “experience, character and a deep understanding of how regulations across the globe matter for individuals in local communities.”

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