USDA Trade Undersec. Ted McKinney Speaks Candidly with Ron Hays at National FFA ConventionFri, 27 Oct 2017 12:12:00 CDT
During the National FFA Convention this week in Indianapolis, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays had the opportunity to interview Ted McKinney, former director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, about his new role at the United States Department of Agriculture as Undersecretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Actually, I was coaxed into it a little bit,” McKinney said, recounting how he came to accept the reality of being invited to join the administrative team of the USDA. “I’ve always believed in service, but I thought, ‘Come on, I’m not the kind they’re going to be interested in.’ But, then two or three things happened.”
He continued to says that he was first approached by then Governor Mike Pence, who remarked to him that he should start considering changing his zip code. That comment was followed by encouragement from contacts in Washington, DC that had been made during his extensive career in the plant science and livestock arena.
“So, I started to take more interest and finally when a big surprise came and I was invited to go visit Trump Tower, that’s when we said, ‘Gosh! Somebody is serious about this.”
Months later, McKinney would eventually find himself receiving the confirmation of the US Senate to take his appointed post at the USDA on Secretary Sonny Perdue’s management team, as chief salesman for the US ag industry.
“He’s probably right, I think as I look back,” he recollected. “The deep experience in both plant science and ag chem; the corporate experience allowed me to work a lot of products through international approvals. Some successful, some quite frustrating. So, I’m eternally grateful to Sec. Perdue for making the invitation and here we are.”
As he settles into his new role, McKinney says he has two goals in mind. One, of philosophical nature, to arrive in DC and to leave DC humble and with his integrity intact. Second, he hopes to respectably showcase the bounty and quality of American made agricultural products to the world and strike deals that are mutually beneficial for the US and its customers, all while conducting business to the letter of the law and arrangements under which our nation and its trading partners have come to an accord.
“I’m going to be an unabashed fanatic and cheerleader for the exporting of good agricultural products,” McKinney gleamed. “Sec. Perdue, my colleagues and I are pushing the absolute boundaries to make sure ag and food are lifted up. We are there for that American farmer to sell whatever they make. If we’re lifting those exports going through, I can look back and say perhaps, job well done. That’s my goal.”
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