The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2019

62 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Feeding the World through Economic Diplomacy The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s economic diplo- macy is as engaged as ever. The Foreign Agricultural Ser- vice expands and maintains access to foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products by removing trade barriers and enforcing U.S. rights under existing trade agreements. We work with foreign govern- ments, international organi- zations and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to establish international stan- dards and rules to improve accountability and predict- ability for agricultural trade. And we develop markets by partnering with 75 coop- erator groups representing a cross-section of the U.S. food and agricultural industry and managing a toolkit of market development programs to help U.S. exporters develop and maintain markets.We also support U.S. agricultural exporters through export credit guarantee programs and other types of assistance. We help developing countries improve their agricultural systems and build their trade capacity, thereby enabling their participation in the global economy. Through FAS’ global network of 93 offices cover- ing 171 countries, we are the eyes, ears and voice of U.S. agriculture around the world. Our market intelligence helps American farmers, ranchers and exporters make informed decisions about how and where to grow their businesses as we apprise them of foreign mar- ket opportunities, produc- tion and trade forecasts, and changes in policies affecting U.S. agricultural exports and imports. U.S. Secretary of Agri- culture Sonny Perdue has placed international trade front and center. Before Secretary Perdue came to USDA, FAS shared an under secretary with two dissimilar domestic agencies, and trade was often overshadowed by their issues. In keeping with a congressional directive in the 2014 Farm Bill, Secretary Perdue created an under sec- retary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs whose job is to “wake up every morning seeking to sell more Ameri- can agricultural products in foreign markets.” Under Secretary Ted McKinney lives by that motto, and he has pushed ahead with a vision of “leaving no stone unturned.”He has led a record number of trade delega- tions and seeks to broaden the reach of U.S. agricultural exporters by networking at the people-to-people level in difficult-to-reach markets such as Southern Africa, Central America’s Northern Triangle, South China and India. Trade missions help generate sales by facilitating introductions and opening doors where language barriers and lack of familiarity obscure opportunity. FAS recognizes that exporting isn’t as simple as putting our farm surplus on a boat for the next port. Although today’s farmers produce more and feed more people than at any other time in history, feeding our growing planet remains a challenge. Fortunately, FAS doesn’t have to confront these challenges alone. In addition to our collabora- tion with numerous other U.S. government and USDA agencies, we partner with more than 70 U.S. nonprofit trade associations, called “cooperators,” that represent producers of myriad food and agricultural products. This public/private partnership ensures that FAS understands and advo- cates the whole-of-industry interests of U.S. agricultural sectors, and both parties benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. A cooperator may seek guid- ance from FAS on how to best enter a newmarket, including introductions to major play- ers, knowledge of the market and relevant regulations, and advice or warnings on approaches or pitfalls. At the same time, some cooperators have decades of experience in foreign markets, and pro- vide similar guidance to our attachés and staff. In all cases, cooperators provide FAS with a wealth of knowledge and technical support on how to promote their commodities. FAS’ global network of agricultural attachés and Locally Employed staff, coupled with our strategic partnerships with U.S. agri- cultural associations, is the envy of other nations. We use this advantage to increase U.S. agricultural exports, boost employment and incomes in the U.S. agricul- tural and export sectors, and support American farmers and ranchers. The best part of our jobs as agricultural attachés is being able to witness the fruits of our labor. It might be in the form of a thank- you email from a small U.S. business that is exporting for the first time; or seeing an American product on a grocery store shelf overseas that did not or could not enter the country before; or witnessing the passage of trade-enabling legislation that we helped create. Every day, we recognize why and how economic diplo- macy makes a difference for U.S. agriculture. Are you con- vinced that FAS has the best jobs in the government?We are! Come join us at https:// n Our market intelligence helps American farmers, ranchers and exporters make informed decisions about how and where to grow their businesses. FAS VP VOICE | BY KIMBERLY SAWATZKI AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP. Contact: | (202) 720-3650