Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman have announced the appointment of California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen to a trade advisory committee for fruits and vegetables for a two-year period.

The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade (ATAC) is a private sector body that provides advice on U.S. agricultural trade policy issues to both agencies. Jointly chartered by USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative the ATAC was established originally in 1974. The committee plays a significant role in shaping agricultural trade policy. Negotiations are currently under way for critical discussions in December and subsequent WTO agreements.

This is Nelsen’s second such appointment.

“It is an honor to be considered and then selected,” Nelsen noted. “Having served one term there’s no doubt that the ability to direct administration policies on trade issues is best done from the inside. Senior policy makers attend these sessions and there has been more than one spirited dialogue.”

For the first time in history the U.S. has experienced a trade deficit in fresh fruits and vegetables. “Since the Uruguay Round many fresh commodities have experienced little or no growth in terms of exports while import volume has risen significantly. The CCM board in recognition of this data has committed time and energy in trade matters for the past seven years, Nelson said.”

Less than 30 people are asked to serve on this advisory committee.

CCM is a citrus producers trade association with a membership of approximately 2,000 growers farming a variety of citrus for an industry that represents a billion plus in farm gate value and employs over 14,000 people.