Dan Amstutz

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Daniel Gordon Amstutz (November 8, 1932 – March 20, 2006) was a U.S. government official and grain-trading industry executive who played a prominent role during negotiation of the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade rules on agriculture, and in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Early years[edit]

Amstutz was born November 8, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Gordon M. and Elizabeth Kiss Amstutz. Pennsylvania was home during his early years and in 1946 the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Dan graduated from Columbus North High School in 1950 and the Ohio State University in 1954. At Ohio State, Amstutz was president of the Student Senate and on the Student court, as well as being President of the Iota Chapter of the Chi Phi Fraternity.[1]

Private sector career[edit]

After graduating from the Ohio State University in 1954, Amstutz joined Cargill, where he began in grain trading, eventually heading the wheat desk. He played a lead role in establishing Cargill Investor Services, of which he was president and CEO. He was persuaded to join Goldman Sachs by its top management who, having bought a metals trading company, were looking for someone to provide direction about ways to operate in futures.

Federal government[edit]

Amstutz served in several positions in the U.S. government. From 1983 to 1987, he was Under Secretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs, then served as Ambassador and Chief Negotiator for Agriculture during the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks from 1987 to 1989.[citation needed]

Private sector lobbying work[edit]

From 1992 to 1995, Amstutz served as executive director of the International Wheat Council in London, England. Heading the I.W.C. (now the International Grains Council) secretariat for three years, he expanded its coverage beyond wheat to rice and coarse grains, he launched the annual grain conferences, and he set a path for expanding the membership.

From 1995 to 2000, Amstutz served as executive director of the North American Export Grain Association. At NAEGA, he pressed for U.S. policies meant to foster growth in exporting and lobbied the U.S. Congress to push for less lenient regulations overseas of GMO foods, particularly in Europe.[1]

Amstutz's post-2000 career was not as successful. According to NAEGA, "Having established his own consulting company to participate in the Internet boom, Mr. Amstutz ran headlong into the web bubble. This dismal experience made him willing to accept what probably was the most daunting of his assignments, serving as agricultural adviser to the American military in Iraq."[2]

Iraqi Occupation[edit]

From April to September 2003, Amstutz led the U.S. Government’s agriculture reconstruction efforts in Iraq, serving as U.S. Senior Ministry Advisor for Agriculture. [3]

Given Amstutz's strong ties to U.S. multinational grain-trading companies, this appointment by the George W. Bush administration provoked a firestorm of criticism. The Guardian newspaper reported on a criticism from the development and humanitarian group Oxfam. According to the paper,

"Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's policy director, said Mr Amstutz would 'arrive with a suitcase full of open-market rhetoric', and was more likely to try to dump cheap US grain on the potentially lucrative Iraqi market than encourage the country to rebuild its once-successful agricultural sector. 'Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission,' Mr Watkins said. 'This guy is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market - but singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country.'" [4]

The criticisms were not limited to NGOs. Criticism of the Amstutz appointment were also made in the UK House of Lords, where it was asked "why this decision was made in preference to appointing one of the experienced agricultural development specialists available within the United Nations system."[5]

Late life[edit]

In Amstutz's final years, he headed a consultancy firm in Arlington, Virginia. He died on March 20, 2006.

He was survived by his partner of 18 years, his mother, sister, niece, two nephews, and several grand nieces and nephews.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Makio. Columbus: The Ohio State University. 1954. p. 132.