Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (1053)

Seán Sherlock


1053. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there has been any contact with his counterpart in the United States Administration. [8905/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

To date, I have not had contact with my US counterpart, as the position of Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not been formally filled.

In December 2020, then President-elect Biden announced that he would nominate Mr. Tom Vilsack to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture. On 2nd February 2021, Mr. Vilsack appeared before the US Senate Agriculture Committee - which is the first stage of the confirmation process - and was unanimously approved.

If Mr. Vilsack is formally confirmed, this would be his third term as Secretary of the USDA. During his previous tenure, a strong relationship was built between the USDA and my own Department. This culminated in a visit to Ireland in June 2014. It was also while he was Secretary that Ireland gained access for our beef to the US market, which at that point made us the first EU Member State to do so.

When the position is formally confirmed, I will, of course, be in contact at the earliest possible date, with a view to strengthening what is a very important relationship in the context of the challenging international trading environment in which the Irish agri-food sector operates.