Top USDA Trade Official to USApple: Trade Must be “Free, Fair and Reciprocal”

CHICAGO — Free, fair and reciprocal trade for U.S. agriculture was the resounding message from Agriculture Under Secretary Ted McKinney at the U.S. Apple Association’s 2019 Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago. McKinney spoke at the 124th annual meeting of apple growers and businesses about the importance of a “two-way street” in trading partnerships.

“We want to get trade on a balanced and level field,” said McKinney, under secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. “We are making progress toward free trade, but we need to get rid of the tariffs. It is not the time to retreat.”  

U.S. apple growers currently face 70 percent tariffs from India (20 percent are new retaliatory tariffs) and 50 percent tariffs from China (40 percent are new retaliatory tariffs). High tariffs and trade tensions have led to a 27 percent drop in apple exports from last year, according to USApple.

“Passage of the USMCA is the most important thing we have in front of us to bring certainty to growers,” continued McKinney, referring to the USApple-supported U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement.  “It’s a good deal for everybody. The agreement is tee’d up. We must pass it.”

McKinney also spoke about the “megatrend of megatrends that affects everyone in agriculture,”—the need to ramp up food production to meet future demand. Referring to the situation as the “seven and the nine,” McKinney spoke of how the world population is expected to grow from its current 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050.

“We’re going to have to double food production as we know it from today to feed everyone,” said McKinney.  “Seven and the nine should drive us more than anything else.

“I want to recognize this meeting as an international gathering,” continued McKinney, referring to the 70 attendees representing 17 foreign countries at Outlook. “Who better than the apple industry to come together as a global group to discuss the way forward to meet food demand. Well done!”

McKinney leads the development and implementation of USDA’s trade policy, facilitates foreign market access and promotes opportunities for U.S. agriculture through various trade programs and high-level government negotiations.

President Trump appointed McKinney to the Under Secretary position in July 2017, and he was confirmed by the Senate that October.  Previously he was appointed by then-Governor Mike Pence to serve as Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Under Secretary McKinney grew up on a family grain and livestock farm in Tipton, Ind. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Agricultural Economics.