Chief Agricultural Negotiator

Chief Agricultural Negotiator

The Chief Agricultural Negotiator is an ambassador of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) responsible for conducting and overseeing international negotiations related to trade in agricultural products.[1] The Chief Agricultural Negotiator is compensated at the rate payable for Level III of the Executive Schedule.[2][3]

Predecessor positions

The position has its origins in the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, which stipulated that the Secretary of Agriculture must be consulted when the Department of State conducted negotiations on agricultural trade. At that time the head of Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Leslie A. Wheeler, began to lead agricultural negotiations.[4] His successors as heads of the Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations and the Foreign Agricultural Service continued this work until creation of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in 1962.

Initially, USTR's agricultural negotiations were closely coordinated with the Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service, and in fact during the Kennedy Round of GATT negotiations FAS Administrator Raymond A. Ioanes served as the principal agricultural negotiator.[5] By the late 1970s, however, such matters were handled by an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy who after 1978 was a career member of the Senior Executive Service. Over time this position evolved into a politically appointed Special Trade Negotiator for Agricultural and Food Policy who did not enjoy ambassadorial rank.[2]

During negotiation of the Uruguay Round of GATT talks that led ultimately to creation of the World Trade Organization, Charles J. O'Mara, a Senior Foreign Service officer of the Foreign Agricultural Service, was appointed Counsel for International Affairs to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Special Trade Negotiator for Agriculture. According to Congressional testimony,

In January 1990, U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills and former Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter appointed Mr. O'Mara as their negotiator for agriculture in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. In August 1991, he was named Special Trade Negotiator in the Department's International Affairs and Commodity Programs Office, where he has maintained his responsibilities for the Uruguay Round and spearheaded negotiations on agriculture in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).[6]

Though not employed by USTR, O'Mara thus effectively functioned as USTR's lead agricultural negotiator from 1990 until conclusion of the Uruguay Round.[7]


In 1997, Peter L. Scher was nominated and confirmed to the rank of ambassador while serving as Special Trade Negotiator for Agriculture, the first time the position was elevated to that status.[8][9][10] The Chief Agricultural Negotiator ambassadorship was formally created by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 while Scher was in the position, making him the first to bear the title.[1] However, according to Senate records, the first formal nominee to the new ambassadorship was Scher's successor, Gregory M. Frazier, who was nominated to it October 19, 2000.[11] Frazier was not confirmed by the Senate and was elevated to the ambassadorship from his position as Special Negotiator for Agriculture and Food Policy in a recess appointment on December 21, 2000.[12] He was succeeded in turn by Allen F. Johnson and Dr. Richard T. Crowder.[13][14] In March 2008, President George W. Bush nominated A. Ellen Terpstra to the post, but she was not confirmed.[15][16] The current incumbent is Dr. Islam A. Siddiqui. Siddiqui was given a recess appointment in March 2010, and confirmed by the Senate on October 20, 2011.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ a b "History of the United States Trade Representative". 
  2. ^ a b "Plum Book". 
  3. ^ Executive Schedule
  4. ^ Leslie A. Wheeler
  5. ^ "Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Oral Histories". Retrieved 2009-03-23.  Use the search engine to retrieve the oral history of Raymond A. Ioanes.
  6. ^ "Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies appropriations for fiscal year 1994 : hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session on H.R. 2493 PART 1 (Pages 1-941)". Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  8. ^ "Release No. 0116.97, Statement by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman on Selection of Peter L. Scher as Special Trade Ambassador for Agriculture in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, April 15, 1997". Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  9. ^ "THE NOMINATION OF PETER SCHER TO BE SPECIAL TRADE AMBASSADOR FOR AGRICULTURE (Senate - September 25, 1997)". Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  10. ^ "EXECUTIVE REPORTS OF COMMITTEES (Senate - September 24, 1997)". Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  11. ^ "COMMITTEE BUSINESS SCHEDULED WEEK OF OCTOBER 23, 2000". Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Schwab Praises Chief Agriculture Negotiator Crowder's Service, Announces Appointment of Special Doha Agricultural Envoy". November 25, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Senate Confirms Allen Johnson as USTR's Chief Agriculture Negotiator". July 20, 2001.'s_Chief_Agriculture_Negotiator.html. 
  15. ^ "Schwab Welcomes Nomination of Ellen Terpstra as Chief Agricultural Negotiator". March 26, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Senate Adjourns: Bush nominations die". January 9, 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  17. ^ "USTR Kirk Welcomes Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui". March 28, 2010. 
  18. ^ "President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Positions". March 27, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Baucus Applauds Senate Confirmation of Trade, Treasury Nominees". October 21, 2011. 

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