The Foreign Service Journal, September 2009

I n the midst of our current “re-envisioning” exercise, it is useful to reflect on the mission adjustments FAS has made over the past 80 years. While it is normal for dif- ferent mission objectives to be highlighted at different times, it now appears we are going “forward to the past” to highlight mission areas that were important to FAS decades ago, but haven’t been too prominent in recent years. Our semi-resident historian, Allan Mustard, has identi- fied several FAS subcultures, each one tied to a point in our history. Each has been cleaved (in the sense of split) into other agencies, while FAS retains some of the policy initiatives — and baggage — from each. • Analysis &Trade Policy. FAS was es- tablished in 1930 to “acquire information regarding world competition and de- mand.” However, detailed analysis was shifted to the Department of Agricul- ture’s World Board and Economic Re- search Service, so FAS now focuses on real-time analysis of current market con- ditions. In 1934, to undo the damage caused by the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, USDA Secretary Henry A. Wallace di- rected FAS to negotiate reciprocal agri- cultural tariff reductions with key trading partners. But while FAS still provides the work force for agricultural ne- gotiations, the chief agricultural negotiator is housed within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. • Surplus Disposal (Food Aid and Export Credits). DuringWorldWar II, FAS ran bilateral food-aid programs and worked on the creation of the International Wheat Council to coordinate multilateral donations. Currently, FAS coordinates the Food for Progress and McGovern- Dole food-aid programs, as well as the GSM-102 short- term credit guarantee program. Since the formal creation of USAID in 1961, emergency food-aid programs have been coordinated outside of USDA, although the depart- ment handles the commodity procurement. • Development & National Security Issues. While in- directly supporting national security issues since 1930, FAS directly contributed to food-related analysis during World War II and the recovery period. In the 1930s and 1940s, FAS followed Sec.Wallace into more involvement in global agri- cultural development by working to create the Inter-Amer- ican Institute of Agricultural Science, supporting the Rockefeller Foundation’s “green revolution” projects with Norman Borlaug in Mexico, and helping to create the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. To quote the Wikipedia article that Allan Mustard penned on FAS, “By 1953, [FAS] had roughly 400 agricultural specialists working on devel- opment programs in 27 foreign coun- tries.” With the creation of the International Cooperation Administration (now USAID) in 1954, the role of USDA changed from being the lead agency to being a source of technical assistance. However, since 2003, when we began co- ordinating agricultural reconstruction and stabilization activities in Iraq, and later Afghanistan and Pakistan, that role is again mutating. • Agricultural Export Promotion. In 1954, Congress directed FAS to undertake agricultural export development activities, which led to the market promotion programs that we administer today. However, our role vis-a-vis the commodity cooperators (nonprofit commodity or region-specific groups) has greatly changed. In the early days of the programs, FAS approved every expenditure at a very detailed level; now the coopera- tors receive their funds and provide a results report at the end of the fiscal year. That independence has also eroded support for FAS in Congress. Cleave is a very interesting word, one with two completely opposite meanings. Cleave can mean “to split or separate,” but it can also mean “to adhere or cling.” Over the years, FAS has clung to some central missions, while it has also been separated from other missions. Buckle up as we re-envision another set of FAS core missions — hopefully with full funding to support them. ❏ V.P. VOICE: FAS ■ BY HENRY SCHMICK Mission Cleavage Cleave can mean “to split or separate,” but it can also mean “to adhere or cling.” S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 9 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 61 A F S A N E W S