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Nominee for USDA Undersecretary Addresses Dairy Issues in Hearing

Sep 21, 2017
Ted McKinney, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing this week to consider the nominations of Stephen Censky as deputy secretary of agriculture and Ted McKinney as undersecretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs (TFAA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During the hearing, McKinney, who currently is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, made two positive comments about priority issues for the dairy industry: Codex and trade agreements.

Codex Office

USDA announced earlier this month that it will move the U.S. Codex Office from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service to the new TFAA area, which McKinney would lead if confirmed. The Codex Office is responsible for ensuring U.S. government interests are reflected in the development of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Discussing the move, McKinney stressed the importance of setting global standards that are based in science and not on politics.

IDFA supports McKinney’s call for science-based regulations. “Placing the U.S. Codex office in the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs area helps to ensure that Codex standard-setting activities will be founded on strong science, result in real public health benefits and facilitate fair trade of U.S. dairy products around the world,” Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, said when the move was announced.

Fair Dairy Trade

When asked how he would deal with trading partners that do not abide by their trade commitments, McKinney said he has seen that kind of activity affecting the U.S. dairy industry. He said he thinks it is important to understand the problem fully, and then sit down with officials at agencies such as the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Commerce and Congress to address the problem quickly. He added that a solution might have to wait for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is now underway.

IDFA believes modernizing NAFTA is a great start, but the industry also needs an ambitious U.S. trade agenda to provide similar success stories for dairy in the future. The association looks forward to working with the new TFAA undersecretary on making trade agreements a priority.

McKinney also identified non-scientific barriers to trade as the biggest issue the United States faces in renegotiating trade deals.

Censky, currently CEO of the American Soybean Association, spoke broadly about agriculture issues, including the renewable fuel standard, a safety net for dairy farmers and finding new domestic and international markets for agricultural products.

IDFA has urged senators to approve Cenksy and McKinney for the USDA positions.

View a recording of the hearing and read nominees’ testimony on the Senate Agriculture Committee website.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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