WASHINGTON - By unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate last night confirmed Allen F. Johnson as the Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, filling an important position for agriculture within USTR as the administration's legislative trade agenda in Congress and efforts to launch a new global trade round move forward.
As USTR's Chief Agriculture Negotiator, Mr. Johnson will have the rank of Ambassador, and will play a critical leadership role with America's farmers and agricultural producers, working to expand their access to overseas markets, and addressing related agricultural issues.
"Trade is critical to U.S. agriculture- one in three American farm acres is planted for export," Ambassador Johnson said. "Many American farmers depend on overseas markets for selling their produce, and USTR will remain vigilant in our efforts to make sure our trading partners provide American farmers with fair access."
With the United States a party to only two of 130 preferential trade agreements around the world, Ambassador Johnson added that the United States is falling behind because the President does not have Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA provides the President the authority to submit trade deals to Congress for either approval or disapproval, without amendments. This authority is important because other countries are less willing to sign trade deals if Congress has the ability to change the agreement. With 96% of potential agricultural consumers living outside U.S. borders, expanding American agriculture's access to overseas markets is critical to America' s farmers.
Ambassador Johnson comes to the USTR with considerable experience in the agriculture industry. Since 1998, he has been president of the National Oilseed Processors Association, an industry organization. He has also been the CEO of two farmer organizations, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Soybean Promotion Board. Ambassador Johnson is also a member of the Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USTR. He served as Agriculture, Environment and Trade Legislative Assistant to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa from 1985 to 1987.
Ambassador Johnson holds an MBA from Stanford Business School, an MA from Stanford's Food Research Institute, a Certificate in Public Management from Stanford Business School and a BS in Business Management from George Mason University. He grew up in Iowa working on soybean, corn, cattle, hog and chicken farms.