Sen. Doug McKalip was challenged at Senate confirmation hearing

President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Chief Ag Negotiator won high remarks from both parties at his Senate confirmation hearing, but Doug McKalip was questioned about the White House’s “no free trade deal” policy.

Oklahoma’s James Lankford points to a problem McKalip has no control over.

“We’ve had the USTR in this room multiple times. We’ve had Secretary Raimondo in to be able to talk about trade negotiations and what’s happening on the commerce side, and the very clear message that we’ve heard over and over again is, ‘we’re not going to do trade deals.’ The President has instructed us, we’re not going to do trade deals,” said Sen. James Lankford.

Doug McKalip, hemmed in by the President’s policy, pushed back.

“The farmers I talk to in a 30-year career with USDA, I think the reason they associate those three letters, FTA, or free trade agreement with market access, they look back at past performance and what that has done for them,” says Doug McKalip.

He insists he can still make a difference for producers.

“I wouldn’t be taking this job, I wouldn’t be interested in it if I didn’t think I could make a difference for farmers. So, what they need, your ranchers in terms of meat products, your farmers in terms of row crops, it’s going to be incumbent upon me to deliver the kind of results and to be an advocate within the system and abroad, to make sure that at the end of the day, things that weren’t sent to these countries previously, now we have an opportunity there,” said McKalip.

He says if he is confirmed, he wants to work directly with the Chinese to see how the two countries can open the flow of key inputs that can be used to manufacture fertilizer domestically.

Early on, McKalip plans to focus on trade agreements with the UK, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The Senate expects him to be confirmed in the coming weeks.


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