President Obama nominates Vetter chief agricultural negotiator |

President Obama nominates Vetter chief agricultural negotiator

President Barack Obama late Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Darci L. Vetter for chief agricultural negotiator with the rank of ambassador, a position in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

She would succeed Islam Siddiqui, who has announced his intention to depart.

Vetter is Agriculture deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, a position she has held since 2010.

According to USDA’s web site, Vetter oversees the department’s international activities. She has key responsibilities in international trade negotiations and export assistance programs, and coordinates USDA’s role in international food aid. She also plays a leadership role in several international economic development and trade capacity building programs.

From 2007 to 2010, she was an international trade adviser on the Democratic staff on the Senate Finance Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. In that job she advised Baucus and other committee members on trade issues relating to agriculture, the environment and labor, including the 2008 farm bill and on climate change.

Before working in the Senate, Vetter held a number of roles at USTR, including director for agricultural affairs from 2005 to 2007 and director for sustainable development from 2001 to 2005.

At USTR, she was responsible for facilitating the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and resolving agricultural trade issues with Canada and Mexico, as well as participating in the World Trade Organization Doha Round negotiations. She also negotiated the environmental provisions of the U.S.-Chile free trade agreement and negotiated trade provisions in U.N. environmental treaties, including the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Before that, she was special assistant to the undersecretary for management at the State Department from 2000 to 2001.

Vetter is from Aurora, Neb., where her family owns a small grain cleaning and processing business where she worked summers as a teenager. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Drake University and a master of public administration degree and certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Vetter is married to Jason Hafemeister, a senior economist in the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. Hafemeister was previously vice president of AFJ & Associates, a Washington-based international trade consulting firm.

Before that, Hafemeister served for more than 15 years at USDA and USTR as an international trade negotiator.

He was lead U.S. agriculture negotiator for China’s accession to the WTO, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and the WTO’s Doha round of negotiations. Earlier he was part of the negotiating team in the WTO’s Uruguay Round, including work on the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures.

–The Hagstrom Report

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