Senate Confirms Indiana Ag Dir. McKinney To Key USDA Trade Post

Oct 5, 2017

Indiana’s top agricultural official will become the nation’s first undersecretary for foreign agricultural trade.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Ted McKinney to the newly-created Department of Agriculture post Tuesday.

In a statement, USDA secretary Sonny Perdue says McKinney will “wake up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets.”

Before taking over Indiana’s agriculture department in 2013, McKinney spent years in leadership positions at big global agribusinesses such as Dow and Elanco in Indianapolis.

McKinney was initially said to be on the short list to be Secretary of Agriculture late last year. He was nominated to the trade undersecretary position in July.

McKinney was confirmed alongside American Soybean Association CEO Steve Censky, who will become deputy secretary at the USDA.

In a statement, Indiana Farm Bureau president Randy Kron calls McKinney “well-suited” to the trade job.

“We are excited to see [McKinney] promote and expand American agriculture’s influence around the world,” Kron says.

Indiana’s U.S. senators also applauded the confirmation in statements this week.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) says McKinney’s background “has prepared him to serve America’s ag community by helping to expand trade of agricultural products in foreign markets.”

And Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) calls McKinney “a proven leader in Hoosier agriculture.”

“I look forward to working with Ted to ensure that Hoosier farmers can continue to feed the world,” Young says.

There’s no word on who will permanently replace McKinney at the ISDA, but Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch’s office says deputy ISDA director Melissa Rekeweg will be the agency’s interim chief.

Rekeweg was appointed in 2014, after serving at the state Department of Education and as executive director of Indiana’s Future Farmers of America chapter.