Biden picks for key USDA and Farm Credit posts had their confirmation hearings before the Senate Ag Committee Thursday. GOP Senators challenged Oregon Ag Department head and Biden pick for USDA Undersecretary for Trade Alexis Taylor repeatedly on the president’s unwillingness to do trade deals key for farmers.
But she would only commit to “discussions” within the administration. Taylor; “What is meaningful market access for a cross-section and diversity of U.S. agricultural products that we are producing and exporting?”
However on South Dakota Senator John Thune’s challenge to push for reinstatement of WTO-nixed Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, Taylor said; “Should I be confirmed, I am absolutely committed to working with you and USTR on a path that brings Country of Origin Labeling for our producers, but also for our consumers, in a way that is WTO-compliant.”
Farm Credit Board nominee Vincent Garfield Logan also had his confirmation hearing on Thursday. He said, on dealing with soaring input costs and rising farm debt; “We have to ensure that the system is safe and sound, that credit is available, and that it is well-capitalized for credit-worthy borrowers.”
And FSIS Chief Scientist Jose Emilio Esteban, nominated for Undersecretary for Food Safety, on limiting disease outbreaks, during his hearing said; “By doing antemortem and postmortem inspection of all those animals to identify when it first happens and before it becomes a big issue. So, if I had the honor of being confirmed, I would definitely reach out to my colleagues in APHIS and see how we could strengthen the already strong relationships and actually improve on our surveillance mechanisms.”
Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, responding to GOP calls for speedy Senate action on the long-awaited nominations, agreed to seek swift confirmation by unanimous consent as soon as next week.