The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

32 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL whether accidental or intentional, is an important component of our nation’s security infrastructure. With both technical and diplomatic expertise, APHIS FSOs must remain engaged in high- level biosecurity/bioterrorism discussions both within the U.S. government and in groups such as the G7. • International organizations such as the OIE and United Nations organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organi- zation and the International Atomic Energy Agency are vital part- ners for achieving APHIS’ goals. Active and successful engage- ment by APHIS FSOs on the multinational level will be critical for influencing trade standards, plant and animal pest and disease control/eradication efforts, and preventing future pandemics. With so many tasks at hand, however, APHIS FSOs have found that their ability to work proactively, and their influence in international organizations and the interagency space, has been substantially compromised. The number of APHIS FSOs, which for decades ranged between 50 and 60, at one point dropped to below 20 as APHIS struggled to define its vision for the future of its Foreign Service. To rectify the situation, APHIS is now aggres- sively recruiting and hiring FSOs. Between 2016 and 2020, APHIS recruited a diverse cadre of 22 FSO trainees, retaining 16. APHIS is still recruiting and hopes to welcome additional animal and plant specialists who can join the effort to keep American agri- culture and agricultural trade healthy and thriving. Whether they’ve marshalled the screwworm program through Nicaragua in the middle of a civil war, negotiated critical new market openings for U.S. products, weathered battles with trading partners over bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or advocated the importance of addressing zoonotic diseases in animals to prevent their spread to humans, APHIS’ Foreign Ser- vice officers and their domestic colleagues have shown time and again that no matter the challenge, they will find a way forward, protecting U.S. agriculture and promoting science-based agricul- tural trade. n Through its capacity building efforts, APHIS FSOs help countries control diseases before they spread to the U.S., for example, by attending a live bird market training in Ecuador (right). At a livestock market in Ecuador, indigenous Otavalenos women sell caged chickens in 2012. The APHIS Foreign Service was instrumental in the design of WHO’s Joint External Evaluation tool and process, a voluntary “One Health” country evaluation that assesses pandemic preparedness. CINDYHOPKINS/ALAMY APHISECUADOR