For the purpose of developing, maintaining, and expanding international markets for United States agricultural commodities, the Secretary of Agriculture, after consultation with the Secretary of State, shall establish not less than six nor more than twenty-five United States Agricultural Trade Offices in other nations.
Each Agricultural Trade Officer may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title 5 governing appointments in the competitive service, and may be paid without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5 relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no Agricultural Trade Officer (1) may be paid basic pay at a rate in excess of the maximum annual rate of basic pay payable for GS–17 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of such title, or (2) may be paid at a rate in excess of the highest rate paid to an Agricultural Counselor or Attaché, as the case may be, who is appointed under subchapter I of this chapter to the nation in which such Officer is to serve.
Each Agricultural Trade Officer shall, through the Agricultural Counselor or Attaché or other senior representative of the Secretary of Agriculture in each nation in which the United States Agricultural Trade Office administered by such Officer exercises its functions, keep the Chief of the United States diplomatic mission fully and currently informed with respect to all activities and operations of such Office.
Each Agricultural Trade Officer shall be responsible for the exercise of the functions of the United States Agricultural Trade Office, and shall have the authority to direct and supervise all personnel and activities thereof.
To carry out the functions of United States Agricultural Trade Offices, the Secretary of Agriculture may appoint such other personnel as the Secretary determines to be necessary and may, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, assign such personnel abroad and employ local nationals for necessary professional and clerical help.
No employee of any United States Agricultural Trade Office may engage in any business, vocation, or other employment, or have other interests, that are inconsistent with official responsibilities.
Upon the request of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of State shall request for Agricultural Trade Officers and personnel of United States Agricultural Trade Offices diplomatic privileges and immunities equivalent to those enjoyed by members of the Foreign Service of comparable rank and salary.