U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in USDA.
Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy. U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20% of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity, according to the agency. Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs. As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive, the U.S. must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.
“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world. By working side by side with our U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world,” Perdue said.
USDA’s reorganization seeks to place agencies in a more logical order. Under the existing structure, the Foreign Agricultural Service, which deals with overseas markets, and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which handles domestic issues, were housed under one mission area, along with the Risk Management Agency (RMA). It makes more sense to situate FAS under the new undersecretary for trade, where staff can sharpen their focus on foreign markets, according to USDA.
As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue announced a newly named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Perdue also said that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.
Additionally, a new undersecretary will be selected for a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which is to focus on domestic agricultural issues. Locating FSA, RMA, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service under this domestically-oriented undersecretary will provide a simplified one-stop shop for USDA’s primary customers, the men and women farming, ranching, and foresting across America.