Amstutz, a former executive with Cargill and the International Wheat Council, will serve as the senior ministry adviser for agriculture and will coordinate U.S. government activities in the sector, according to Veneman.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to draw upon someone with Dan Amstutz’s background and experience for this extremely important task," said Veneman. "He will help us achieve our national objective of creating a democratic and prosperous Iraq while at the same time best utilize the resources of our farmers and food industry in the effort."

Veneman said USDA has a key role in the government’s efforts to create a democratic, market driven economy in Iraq. Numerous experts in a wide variety of fields from both USDA and the private sector will assist in the effort. Amstutz will serve as a liaison between Secretary Veneman and military officials overseeing the rebuilding effort.

Amstutz, one of several former government officials who have set up Washington consulting firms, will join other government representatives in the region immediately, Veneman said.

He served as undersecretary for international affairs and commodity programs from 1983 to 1987 and then as ambassador and chief negotiator for agriculture during the Uruguay Round General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) talks in 1987-1989.

He has held positions with Cargill; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; the International Wheat Council and North American Export Grain Association.

USDA is among several federal agencies sending officials to the region to help rebuild the Iraqi political system, restart key government agencies and restore many sectors of the economy. Others include the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Interior, Treasury, Justice and State and the Office of Management and Budget, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Earlier, USDA announced the release of 200,000 metric tons of grain from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust for shipment to Iraq and for sale to obtain supplies of U.S.-grown rice to be sent to the Iraqi people. Iraq was a major market for U.S. rice before the first Gulf War. Veneman has said that another 400,000 metric tons of grain could be made available.

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