WASHINGTON (AP) _ A senior Agriculture Department official said Tuesday that he's sorry for comments he made last week about a U.S. District Court ruling by a woman judge.

Richard W. Goldberg, deputy undersecretary for international affairs and commodity programs, was reported by The Washington Post to have said that a male judge would have understood the issue better and would have decided differently.

Goldberg's remarks, made last week at a meeting of the U.S. Feed Grains Council, referred to a ruling by Judge June L. Green that the department's ''blended credit'' export program was subject to cargo preference requirements that 50 percent of the shipments be carried in U.S. vessels.

''I said what I said in the Post, I can't tell exactly what it was,'' Goldberg told The Associated Press. ''It was a ridiculous thing to do. It was a very flippant thing - out of frustration for what's happened to us in agriculture as a result of the decision. It was a decision that was clearly against farmer interests.''

The Post article quoted Goldberg as telling the trade association that Judge Green's ruling ''is an illustration of why women shouldn't be allowed to go to law school, let alone be appointed to the bench.''

Under the USDA's export credit program, loan guarantees are mixed with direct no-interest loans as ''blended credit'' so that designated countries can buy U.S. farm commodities at a lower overall interest rate than otherwise would be available.

The department took the view that commodities shipped under the program were exempt from the Cargo Preference Act, which requires that 50 percent be shipped in American flag vessels, which are more expensive to use than foreign ships.