Md. official resigning to help Ukraine

March 19, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

Robert L. Walker, Maryland's secretary of agriculture since November 1991, resigned yesterday to take a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture helping Ukrainian farmers improve production techniques and move to a free-market system.

Mr. Walker has been appointed an agricultural policy adviser to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ukraine, which was the breadbasket of the former Soviet Union. He will leave his state position in mid-April and begin his new job at the end of the month.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer said Deputy Agriculture SecretaryLewis R. Riley will serve as acting secretary until a successor to Mr. Walker is named.

Mr. Walker's appointment is for one year, but the assignment could be extended. He will report to the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine but will have an office in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture building in Kiev and will work directly with that agency.

Mr. Walker has been involved in recent years in more than a dozen agriculture-related trade missions to the former Soviet Union.

His wife, Tanya, grew up in Kharkov, Ukraine's second-largest city.

Six weeks ago, Mr. Walker was in Russia looking for export opportunities for U.S. food products. He said he saw that the United States was already well behind the Netherlands and Germany in efforts to grab a bigger slice of the Russian food market.

Mr. Walker said an example of Ukraine's needs is the 24- to 36-hour shelf life of milk there. That compares with about 10 days in the United States, he said, adding, "They need our equipment and knowledge to make quality food products."

Mr. Walker, 45, is a graduate of City College and Towson State University.

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