In Washington, DC today, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Deputy Under Secretary Darci Vetter accepted an American flag that flew above the U. S. Regional Embassy Office at Al Hillah, Iraq in recognition of USDA employees’ contributions on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq.
Recently, the building that had housed the Regional Embassy Office (REO) Al-Hillah and U.S. Government’s four PRTs covering the South Central Iraqi provinces of Babil, Najaf, Karbala and Diwaniyah was returned to the Iraqi Government. Prior to the closing of the office, an American flag was flown over the building in gratitude for USDA’s contribution to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The flag was presented by Ambassador Patricia Haslach, Iraq Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Coordination at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad. Prior to transferring to the Department of State, Ambassador Haslach began her diplomatic career with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in 1986. Because of this experience, Ambassador Haslach has provided strong support within the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad for USDA’s PRT work in Iraq.
USDA employees from FAS, the Farm Service Agency, Agricultural Research Service, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, have served in Iraq. FAS personnel on PRTs work actively with other U.S. agencies, the U.S. military, aid organizations and the Iraqi government to help Iraq harness its economic potential to recreate jobs and other opportunities for its people. Together and in partnership with the U.S. military, the PRTs engage provincial-level officials and civil society organizations to strengthen governance and transparency, foster economic development and improve delivery of basic services.
Since 2007, when USDA initially deployed PRT team members to Iraq, seven have served on PRTs in Babil. Projects supported in Babil include agri-business development (farmer’s market), fish farming, agricultural extension, and beekeeping
To learn more about rebuilding agriculture and food security in Iraq, visit our site.