National Industrial Hemp Council Names New CEO
The National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) Board of Directors has named Patrick Atagi as president and CEO of the hemp industry’s only Washington, D.C.-based trade association. The NIHC continues to grow with new staff and leadership. Members, industry partners, hemp associations, and international partners will meet with Atagi on Nov. 14-16th at NIHC’s 2021 Hemp Business Summit in Washington, D.C.
Atagi currently serves on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC) on Cotton, Tobacco, Hemp and Peanuts at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which advises not only the Secretary of Agriculture, but also the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on technical barriers to trade. Atagi is one of two members of the NIHC to serve on a USDA ATAC.
“The economic promise of hemp has the capacity to change the world,” said Atagi. “Its utility is near limitless and it can be found in everything from food to clothes, building materials and manufacturing. Our goal at NIHC has always been, and will remain: to create a hemp economy that works for everyone.”
Under Atagi’s leadership, NIHC has had several accomplishments, which have raised the profile of industrial hemp.
In 2020, NIHC’s input was instrumental in Congress extending the 2014 Hemp Pilot Program. This year, NIHC took the lead in drafting language for Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) legislation to change the statutory definition of hemp to one percent delta-9 THC. NIHC has also worked with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Paul to write legislation giving FDA the authority to make CBD not just a dietary supplement; but also an ingredient in food.
Atagi led the Board of Directors in an initiative to successfully enroll NIHC as an official government partner through the USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP), a public-private partnership in which the USDA matches industry funds to promote U.S. commodities in the global economy. The NIHC was successfully awarded $200,000 from the USDA MAP initiative.
“I’m thankful for our Board of Directors and the members of NIHC who have placed their trust in me to be a voice that leads our industry. We will continue to do the necessary work to promote the brand of hemp, ensure consumer safety and usher the U.S. hemp industry into the global marketplace,” Atagi said.
Prior to this role, Atagi was the vice president of advocacy and external affairs at the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA), subsequently becoming the executive director of the NWPCA Political Action Committee (PAC). Other leadership roles in Washington, D.C. include director at the American Chemistry Council, secretariat for the World Chlorine Council, and director at the National Association of State Department’s of Agriculture (NASDA).
Atagi has served in multiple roles at the USDA and United States Senate, as well as having private sector international and domestic experience. Atagi served as a presidential political appointee at USDA; confidential assistant to the Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Director of Alaska and Native American Programs. He began his career in Washington working on agricultural issues for then United States Senator Mark Hatfield (OR), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also remains president of DA Farms in Nyssa, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has his MBA from the University of Maryland, Global Campus. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Tracy.