Doud may move forward as ag negotiator
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., released his hold on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Gregg Doud as chief agriculture negotiator.
Flake had placed the hold on Doud because he was upset about the Trump administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement proposal to allow Florida tomato producers to use U.S. trade remedy laws to counter surges in Mexican produce imports.
He said in a news release that he had secured commitments on NAFTA-related trade priorities from both the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Flake released a letter from Hatch which did not mention the seasonal produce dispute but said that Hatch is committed to working with him on NAFTA modernization that benefits all producers, service providers and consumers.
Flake noted that Hatch’s committee would have to approve any revised trade agreement to address those concerns. He said he also secured a commitment from Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to meet with Arizona stakeholders who rely on NAFTA and would be negatively impacted by the proposed provision.
“Given the importance of U.S. agriculture and what’s at stake for them in the NAFTA negotiations, I am pleased that this nomination can move forward,” Flake said.
“While certainly there are areas in the NAFTA agreement ripe for modernization, adding ill-advised seasonal or regional components to existing trade remedies would lead to needless trade restrictions, devastating economic consequences, and likely retaliation,” he said. “I will continue to work toward a solution with the administration and Chairman Hatch as well as utilizing additional procedural tools at my disposal.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pa Roberts, R-Kan., said in an email, “I’m pleased that assurances have been given and there seems to be a clear path for Gregg Doud to be confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator.”
“As the poster child for what successful trade agreements can do for the American economy, our farmers and ranchers have gone far too long without a voice at the trade table during these uncertain times,” Roberts said. “The Senate needs to move as quickly as possible to get Trade Ambassador Lighthizer a full team. I’m hopeful the Democrats will allow Gregg to be confirmed as soon as possible.”
Doud is the president of the Commodity Markets Council. He previously worked for farm groups and for the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, one of the groups for which Doud previously worked, urged a quick vote.
“This is great news for America’s cattlemen and women, and for all agricultural producers,” NCBA President Craig Uden said in a news release.
“We’re glad that Sen. Flake has finally heard our call for him to drop his hold and allow Gregg Doud to start working to improve market access around the world for our producers. With talks continuing on NAFTA, the Korea-US trade agreement, and access to many other markets still up in the air, it’s imperative that the U.S. Senate now move as quickly as possible to confirm Doud’s nomination/”
NCBA had distributed “Missing Person” posters of Doud at the NAFTA negotiating session in Montreal last week and tweeted about it.