In January, President Obama petitioned Congress to reduce the size of the federal government by merging six trade-related federal agencies — including Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) — into one organization whose primary focus would be assisting U.S. businesses in trade-related matters.
Some agricultural industry groups have already expressed concern over the apparent elimination of USTR as a separate entity under the Executive Order of the President. USTR negotiates, enforces and administers the U.S. trade agreements program and is directly accountable to both the president and Congress. It also plays an invaluable role in coordinating the many different entities within the U.S. government that have specialized trade functions based on their own expertise. These agencies include the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — two agencies with which the Almond Board works closely.
The president is expected to seek special permission from Congress to reorganize the agencies soon. If granted, Congress will have 90 days to issue a decision on the proposed changes in an up-or-down vote. ABC will continue to monitor this merger and update industry as developments occur.