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Chairwoman Stabenow Opening Statement at…


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following opening statement at a hearing to consider the nominations of Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban, of California, to be Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mr. Vincent Garfield Logan, of New York, to be a Member of the Farm Credit Administration, and Ms. Alexis Taylor, of Iowa, to be Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Live video of the hearing is available here.

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

I call to order today’s hearing to consider the nominations of Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban, to be Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Mr. Vincent Logan to be a Member of the Farm Credit Administration, and Ms. Alexis Taylor to be Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Welcome to our nominees. It’s a pleasure to have you and your families here with us today.

Every American deserves to know that the food they are eating is safe. That is why it is imperative that we fill the USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety position.

Dr. Esteban is a dedicated public servant and food safety expert with over 24 years of experience as a food safety regulator. His expertise will help USDA ensure that the food families put on their tables is safe. Through funding that I secured in the American Rescue Plan, USDA is investing more than $1 billion to create new small and mid-size meat and poultry processing capacity. These investments are building a more resilient food system, and we need to be sure these processors are successful. Dr. Esteban, you will play an important role in helping make this happen. 

Next, Vincent Logan is nominated to serve as a board member of the Farm Credit Administration. The Farm Credit System ensures that rural communities and agricultural producers of all types and sizes have reliable access to credit. Mr. Logan’s extensive background in both the agriculture and financial sectors makes him very well-qualified for this role. Mr. Logan’s nomination is also historic. If confirmed, he will be the first Native American to serve as a Farm Credit Administration Board Member.

It is long overdue that we fill this Board seat, which has been vacant for several years. I will also note that while I appreciate the continued service of the two current board members, both of their terms have expired, and I urge the White House to quickly nominate people to fill these positions.

Our farmers and foresters need consistent access to markets abroad to sell their products. Agricultural exports add over $154 billion to the U.S. economy each year, supporting more than 1 million jobs, yet producers consistently face unscientific and other nontariff trade barriers.

Congress recognized this in the 2014 Farm Bill, when I worked with Senator Roberts and former Finance Committee Chairman Senator Baucus to establish the USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs position. It is fitting that Senator Baucus’s agriculture staffer during the 2014 Farm Bill, Alexis Taylor, is before us today as we consider her nomination to fill that position.

Ms. Taylor grew up on her family’s farm in Northeast Iowa, a farm that has been in her family for more than 160 years. She has spent her entire career as a dedicated public servant working for American agriculture, most recently as the Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Ms. Taylor understands trade and agriculture and will be an asset to USDA as they help farmers and rural communities recover from the pandemic. While completing her college degree, Ms. Taylor also served in the U.S. Army Reserves and did a tour of duty in Iraq. Thank you for your service.

Each of these nominees has strong bipartisan support, and I am looking forward to moving them quickly through this Committee, and through the Senate.

Finally, all three of our nominees today have support from a broad range of stakeholders across the trade, finance, and agriculture sectors. I ask unanimous consent that these letters describing their support be entered into the record. With that, I’ll turn to my friend, Ranking Member Boozman, for his opening comments.

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