The National Chicken Council and 48 other agricultural organizations explained in a June 3 letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that they are opposed to any proposal that would combine USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) into a single trade agency. Such action “will disrupt the functioning and effectiveness of export supporting programs and agencies that serve agriculture,”  the letter from the Agricultural Trade Coalition said.  FAS has an important and proven working relationship with other USDA agencies and with USTR. the letter pointed out.  The effectiveness of FAS,  in large part, is also derived from its “extremely strong tradition of close working relationships with its constituents in the agricultural private sector,”  the letter noted.  At the same time, USTR should remain within the President’s Executive Office and continue its vital, independent role of reducing trade barriers and improving the international rules for trade.

OMB is contemplating moving FAS and USTR into a single trade agency because President Obama directed in March this year that OMB create a plan for the restructuring and streamlining of the executive departments and agencies that are involved in or support trade.  The presidential memorandum directed OMB to submit a plan for combining all trade offices within 90 days of March 11.  While “efficiency in government is an important goal, proper functioning and effectiveness” should not be sacrificed in the process, the letter concluded.