Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is back from the Middle East as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission.
Quarles, who is considered to be a Republican candidate for governor in 2023, recently returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia where his office says he focused on food and equine exports.
“Developing markets for Kentucky farm families is an essential responsibility of mine as Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner,” Quarles said in a statement. “Despite disagreeing with President Biden on several policy issues, I appreciate his U.S. Department of Agriculture inviting state agricultural leaders to help open new markets for American farmers. I was grateful to work with the Trump Administration on the numerous trade deals President Trump inked. With people traveling again, I believe it is important to get back to normal, pursue international trade relationships, and put the interests of Kentucky farmers first. Anytime we can sell more Kentucky agricultural products, that’s a win for our state.”
Quarles joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Dubai Feb. 15-24 as part of USDA’s first in-person trade mission in more than two years. While on the trip, the Commissioner connected with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, Inc. (KTOB) for meetings in GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries to benefit Kentucky’s world-class horse industry, according to a news release.
British Ambassador to the United States Dame Karen Pierce DCMG also invited Quarles to participate in a visit for “a select group of U.S. agriculture officials March 5-11,” according to the commissioner’s office.
No state taxpayer dollars were used to pay for Quarles’ travel expenses, according to his office. The USDA mission was covered by Market Access Program funds allocated to the federal agency by Congress, as well as funds from the Southern United States Trade Association and the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, Inc. The trip to the United Kingdom was sponsored by the British Government.
Kentucky’s total agricultural and related product exports amounted to more than $1.1 billion in 2021, with more than $11 million in exports to the UAE and $98 million to the UK through November of 2021.