The American Farm Bureau Federation, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, The Fertilizer Institute and 93 other agriculture and food-related groups have signed a letter strongly supporting the confirmation of Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Darci Vetter as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

The position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, with the rank of ambassador, was created in 1997 by Congress for the express purpose of ensuring that U.S. agriculture is fully represented in trade negotiations at the highest possible level.

“U.S. agricultural exports are valued at near $140 billion for 2013, and agriculture remains one of the few sectors in the overall economy that has shown a positive trade balance for decades,” the letter stated. “The most recent figures place this value at or above $30 billion, making the role of the Chief Agricultural Negotiator as one of the most important in the entire Office of the USTR.

The groups said that Vetter “brings a wealth of well-rounded background expertise,” to the position, including more than six years of experience at USTR, dealing with implementation of various provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“She has also had extensive experience working for the Senate Finance Committee, giving her a sound understanding of the importance as well as the workings of Congress,” according to the letter. “Her most recent experience within the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also given her direct exposure to the workings of many of the critical programs related to trade currently offered by the federal government as well as the numerous trade associations involved in helping to stimulate agricultural trade.”