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Dec 26 -- On behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) and the United States Trade Representative (Trade Representative or USTR), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) solicits nominations for the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the related Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) for Trade to provide detailed policy and technical advice, information, and recommendations regarding trade barriers, negotiation of trade agreements, and implementation of existing trade agreements affecting food and agricultural products, including the performance of other advisory functions relevant to U.S. agricultural trade policy matters. We will accept nominations for membership on the APAC and six ATACs until January 31, 2024, for the July 2024–2028 term. New applicants are considered approximately every 12–18 months.

In 1974, Congress established a private-sector advisory committee system to ensure that U.S. trade policy and negotiation objectives adequately reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. As provided for in the law and their charters, the APAC has the following responsibilities:

(A) The Committee will advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary and Trade Representative concerning the trade policy of the United States and the matters arising in the administration of such policy; (B) The Committee will provide information and advice regarding the following: negotiating objectives and bargaining positions of the United States before the United States enters into trade agreements, the operation of any trade agreement once entered into, and matters arising in connection with the administration of the trade policy of the United States; and (C) The Committee will furnish such other advisory opinions and reports as the Secretary and Trade Representative deem necessary; and the ATACs have similar responsibilities.

The ATACs offer technical advice and information about specific agricultural commodities and products.

-- ATAC for Trade in Animals and Animal Products
-- ATAC for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables
-- ATAC for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds, and Planting Seeds
​-- ATAC for Trade in Processed Foods
​-- ATAC for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products
-- ATAC for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton, Peanuts and Hemp

Each committee has a chairperson, who is elected from the membership of that committee. Committees meet as needed, and all committee meetings are typically held in Washington, DC or by telephone or video conference. Committee meetings may be closed if USDA or USTR determines that a committee will be discussing issues that justify closing a meeting or portions of a meeting, in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 2155(f). Throughout the year, members are requested to review sensitive trade policy information and provide comments regarding trade negotiations. In addition to their other advisory responsibilities, at the conclusion of negotiations of any trade agreement, all committees are required to provide a report on each agreement to the President, Congress, USTR and USDA.

Members should have expertise and knowledge of agricultural trade as it relates to policy and commodity specific issues. Members will normally come from an entity with an interest in agriculture, and will serve as a Representative, presenting the views and interests of a particular U.S. entity that has an interest in the subject matter of the committee. However, should a member be appointed primarily for his or her expertise, and not as a representative of an interest group, he or she shall be designated as a Special Government Employee (SGE). SGEs are subject to specific provisions of the ethics laws, including disclosure of financial interests, if they are appointed because of their personal knowledge, background, or expertise. USDA will assist SGEs in disclosing their financial interest and will provide ethics training on an annual basis.

All committee members are appointed by and serve at the discretion of the Secretary and Trade Representative. Committee appointments are typically for a period of four years but may be renewed for an additional term. Each committee member must be a U.S. citizen and must not be registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. To attend most meetings, committee members must have a current security clearance.

FAS Trade Advisory Committees: https://www.fas.usda.gov/topics/trade-advisory-committees
FACA database profiles of the committees: https://www.facadatabase.gov/FACA/s/account/001t000000DCApQAAX/department-of-agriculture
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-28407

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