President Obama’s proposal to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative into the Commerce Department continues to draw concern.

On Tuesday, two dairy organizations expressed concern over the possible impact on U.S. dairy exports. Click here to read more.

On Wednesday, former U.S. trade representative Susan Schwab said it’s a “very bad idea” for U.S. agricultural interests.

“The idea of moving one of the few small agencies in the U.S. government that actually works into this (Commerce Department) behemoth and thinking that’s going to make it more efficient I think is sadly mistaken,” Schwab told AgriTalk radio.

Having the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the White House, where it is now, means that all of the different agencies get heard, she says. Agricultural interests represented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are balanced by those of the State Department, Labor Department, Commerce Department, and so on.

“If you move the trade policy and trade-negotiating role into the Commerce Department,” she says, U.S. agricultural interests could get swallowed up by industrial interests.

Why would U.S. agricultural interests want to be represented by the Department of Commerce? she asked.

Schwab served as U.S. trade representative from June 2006 to January 2009.