U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman yesterday announced the appointment of 129 private-sector members to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs).

"USDA and USTR rely on the individuals who serve on these committees to provide their expert advice on U.S. trade policy and priorities," said Vilsack. "They are an invaluable asset as we work to enact trade agreements and trade policies that deliver the greatest economic benefit for U.S. agriculture and for our nation as a whole," Vilsack said. "The last six years have been the strongest in history for U.S. agricultural exports, with international sales of American farm and food exports totaling $771.7 billion. Those exports now support more than a million quality American jobs. As we negotiate new trade agreements in Asia and Europe we will rely on APAC and ATAC members' expertise and knowledge to bring home the best possible deals."

"The strength of our trade agenda is dependent on the advice and counsel we receive from our trade advisors," said Froman. "And, now is more important than ever as we pursue the most ambitious trade agenda ever for America's farmers, ranchers and businesses of all sizes. The individuals we are appointing today represent one of the most important sectors to America's export economy and will provide critical advice as we negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and work to expand export opportunities for American agriculture."

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Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure a private-sector voice in establishing U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives to reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative jointly manage the committees.

The APAC provides advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on the administration of trade policy, including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements. The ATACs offer technical advice and information about specific commodities and products.

This group of committee members will serve until June 15, 2019. They will be supplemented by additional appointments over the next four years. Applications are encouraged at any time and will be reviewed periodically for additional appointments. A complete list of committee members and information about applying is available at www.fas.usda.gov/topics/trade-advisory-committees. Questions may be sent via e-mail to  ATACs@fas.usda.gov.