Californian nominated for chief ag negotiator

Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino brings her experiences of fighting for ag trade policies and agreements to crucial post.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

September 14, 2021

3 Min Read
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AG TRADE ADVOCATE: If confirmed, Elaine Trevino looks to bring her experience fighting on behalf of farmers on port issues and other regulatory trade roadblocks as chief ag negotiator.Todd Fitchette

After months of calls from agricultural groups, President Joe Biden officially nominated Elaine Trevino as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Trevino’s nomination quickly drew praise for her roots in agriculture and career experiences.

Trevino currently serves as the president of the Almond Alliance of California, a member-based trade association that advocates on regulatory and legislative issues in areas of international trade, food safety, water quality and availability, crop protection, air quality, worker safety, supply chain and feed quality.

“Elaine Trevino understands the importance of America’s farmers and farming communities to the vitality of our economy. Her experience will help the Biden-Harris Administration craft durable trade policy that creates broad-based prosperity,” says USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Throughout her impressive career serving in leadership positions at the state and federal level, Elaine has developed strong relationships with key stakeholders and demonstrated a keen understanding of trade and agriculture policy.” 

As the leader of an organization that advocates for California’s leading agricultural export, USTR notes Trevino understands tariff and nontariff barriers to trade and the importance of maintaining America’s strong trade agreements and global positioning. 

Trevino has worked on advocating for funding for COVID-19 relief, addressing retaliatory tariffs, climate smart farming, public private partnerships for opening new markets and strengthening existing markets and addressing technical sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. Trevino works at the local and federal levels on addressing port congestion, supply chain disruptions and excessive costs.

Related: U.S. farmers need trade advocates

Trevino served as a deputy secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis.  She was responsible for the oversight of the international export and trade programs, specialty crop block grant funding, division of marketing services, plant health and pest prevention and the statewide county fair network. Elaine serves on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee. 

Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, USTR says Trevino has a long history of community service and has a great respect for agriculture and the value of the industry to the overall economy.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says AFBF is encouraged by the nomination. “Her strong roots in agriculture and her experience in America’s largest exporting state have prepared her for the challenges of representing the nation on trade issues,” says Duvall.

Duvall adds, “Opportunities to create new trade agreements with the European Union and Great Britain as well as expanding the China Phase 1 agreement make filling this position with the most qualified person extremely important.”

Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, says as president of the Almond Alliance of California, Trevino has experience fighting for trade policies and agreements that are also important to the meat and poultry industry.

“Recently Elaine has been outspoken on the need to address the crisis at our ports and has worked closely with the Meat Institute to develop policies that promote U.S. agriculture trade, including trade in meat and poultry products,” says Potts. “If confirmed, she will be a strong advocate for all of U.S. agriculture.”

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, says in his time serving with Trevino on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, he’s “confident she will position U.S. agriculture interests competitively, remain vigilant to protect U.S. businesses from myriad barriers to trade, and embrace diplomacy and relationship-building.”

Dykes added as a resident Californian and former deputy secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Trevino is well aware of the importance of trade to California—the state exported $2 billion worth of dairy products in 2020— and to U.S. dairy.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Trevino and her family currently reside in Sacramento, California. 

If confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator, Trevino would be the first woman of color and the first Latina in the position.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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