Hoosier Ag Today is in Kansas City, MO this week for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual convention. We’ll be here throughout the week speaking with the biggest newsmakers in agriculture and bringing that information to you.
The first person we heard from was former Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney on ag trade in the Biden administration.
“If there’s anyone frustrated with some lack of attention on international ag trade, I think we must remember that Candidate Biden campaigned on a domestic policy first and I think he’s focusing on that. So, whether you like that or not, elections have those consequences and so we’re seeing that.”
McKinney didn’t want to be too critical though. He said he admires some of the appointments by Biden.
“I think Ambassador Tai is an excellent choice. Secretary Vilsack, well known to all of us, who spent many years leading the Dairy Export Council, got deeply immersed in trade issues, sometimes to the positive but many times to frustration. So, he comes back with a great deal more experience than he might have had under the Obama administration, and I think that’s good.”
McKinney is also pleased with the nomination of Elaine Trevino, President of the Almond Alliance of California, as Chief Ag Negotiator.
Still vacant though is his former position of Under Secretary for Trade.
“I hope they get to that. Rumors are that there have been some candidates, but for different reasons couldn’t quite make it through ethical guidelines. Best example, as I’m told, is that if there is a farmer nominated, they’re being told that they have to sell the farm to do the job. Well, I hope that is not the case, but I have to believe that Secretary Vilsack is working overtime to try to find that role because it is ever so critical to maintain the relationships.
McKinney now serves as the CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.