​Iowa native one step closer to USDA trade post

September 29, 2022 | Jeff Hutton

Having a strong voice representing U.S. agriculture trade interests is important for soybean farmers who hope to expand and maintain foreign and domestic markets for soy.

By the end of the week, it’s expected that the voice will belong to a native Iowan.

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee recently voted to send Alexis Taylor’s nomination to the full senate to be the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) next Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

Taylor, a native of Holy Cross in Dubuque County and  an Iowa State University graduate, has received broad support for her nomination from ag industry organizations, including from the Iowa Soybean Association, as well as from Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

Advancing and enhancing export opportunities

At her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee, Taylor says she wants to work to advance U.S. agriculture across the globe as she leads the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA) Mission Area and the dedicated staff at the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

“FAS’ mission to link U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security is as relevant today as when it was created in 1930,” she says. “As the diplomatic and humanitarian crisis has unfolded in Ukraine, the capacity building and food security programs at USDA will be even more critical to help the world navigate a growing global food security crisis. The United States plays a critical role in combatting food insecurity and working to protect the most vulnerable. I am proud of this part of the TFAA and FAS mission and will be committed to this work should I have the privilege to serve.”

Taylor says ensuring strong export markets is critical to building resiliency for the American ag community.

“Expanding and maintaining diversified market opportunities, rebuilding strong and reliable trading relationships, and holding our trading partners accountable are essential for our agricultural community,” she says. “And equally as important is removing trade barriers and working to ensure our trading partners have transparent, science-based regulatory requirements which are predictable for our exporters.”

Rooted in agriculture

Taylor is currently the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, a position she was appointed to in 2016.

However, Taylor is no stranger to Washington, D.C. She was previously deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services at USDA during the Obama administration. She also served as a legislator advisor to the late Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa and then former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana.

This Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs role at the USDA, she says, will be a continuation of her support of the American farmer.

“Agriculture is not just what I do, but it is very much who I am,” Taylor said at the hearing. “Working to support farmers and ranchers across the country is something I have dedicated my career to. And should I have the honor to be confirmed as Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, I am committed to working to ensure the interests of U.S. agriculture is being represented here at home and around the globe.”