Biden nominates McKalip to serve as chef ag negotiator at USTR

By Erin Voegele | June 09, 2022

President Biden on June 8 announced his intent to nominate Doug McKalip to serve as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The USDA, USTR and U.S. Grains Council have spoken out in support of his nomination.

McKalip is in his 29th year of federal service as an agricultural policy leader and trade expert. He has served as senior advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack since March 2021, where he has advised the agency on all agricultural matters related to trade, national security, animal and plant health regulations, and a wide portfolio of domestic and international issues.

McKalip formerly served in a leadership capacity in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services. He served as a senior advisor to the secretary of agriculture from 2015 to September 2016, and also as acting chief of staff. McKalip was senior advisor for agriculture and rural affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where is counseled President Obama on issues involving farm, ranch and rural policy. In addition, he served as director of the White House Rural Council and coordinated the executive branch-wide response to the 2013-2013 drought. According to the White House, McKalip has served in a variety of other roles at USDA, including as confidential assistant to the secretary, and director of legislative and public affairs for the National Resources Conservation Service as USDA.

Vilsack has spoken out in support of McKalip’s nomination. “Doug McKalip is highly qualified and exceptionally capable of serving the American people as Chief Agricultural Negotiator,” he said. “Having served as a key agriculture policy official for nearly three decades, he has worked on every aspect of farming from soil conservation, and the supply chain to dealing with sensitive trade and national security matters. Through his service, he has represented American farmers around the world and advocated for U.S. agricultural products and technology.

“Doug has been a key member of my team throughout my tenure as Secretary of Agriculture and has demonstrated a consistent ability to tackle difficult issues and to develop bipartisan solutions to challenges when opposing views exist,” Vilsack added. “These skills will serve him well as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). We will miss having Doug here at USDA, but know that American agriculture and USTR will be well served by having him in this new role. I urge the U.S. Senate to confirm him at the earliest possible opportunity.”

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai called McKalip a highly qualified nominee. “Since taking office, the Biden Administration has expanded market access for our agricultural industry and delivered U.S. agricultural products to customers around the world,” Tai said. “As a result of our close work with USDA, we are finally exporting fresh potatoes to Mexico, shellfish to the European Union, pork products to Vietnam, and most recently, bringing more U.S. beef to Japan.
“USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator will play a pivotal role in maintaining and building on these successes on behalf of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers, and producers,” she added. “Doug McKalip is a highly qualified nominee with decades of experience in public service. His institutional knowledge of USDA spans multiple administrations, from leading different offices to serving as trusted advisor to Secretary Vilsack, and will help us continue the close collaboration between our agencies that has enabled so much success.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted the global supply of commodities, which increases the risk of food insecurity for millions of people,” Tai continued. “If confirmed, Doug will join a leadership team sharply focused on addressing these issues. I hope the United States Senate will swiftly consider Doug’s nomination and confirm him to this position.”

The U.S. Grains Council is also applauding the nomination of McKalip. “Doug McKalip has extensive international experience and more than 28 years of government service at the USDA,” the USGC said in a statement. “He will be able to use his strong background in farm and trade policy and his knowledge of biotechnology to advance trade priorities and open markets for U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and co-products. Upon his confirmation, we look forward to working with him in his pivotal role at USTR.”