The nomination of former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) economist Gregg Doud to be the country’s chief agricultural trade negotiator broke free of a legislative roadblock Thursday after Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) secured agreements on contentious North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) issues. Senator Flake had placed a hold on Doud’s nomination in November over a seasonal produce proposal that was supported by growers in the Southeast but would have increased production costs for growers in Flake’s home state of Arizona.
Flake secured commitments from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer to address the concerns of Arizona.
“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 in a statement. “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. I will continue to work toward a solution with the Administration and Chairman Hatch as well as utilizing additional procedural tools at my disposal.”
The move was immediately applauded by NCBA.
“This is great news for America's cattlemen and women, and for all agricultural producers,” NCBA President Craig Uden said in a released statement. “We're glad that Senator 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-U.S. 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.”
Doud’s nomination for the trade post was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in October. A vote by the full Senate has not yet been scheduled.
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