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Posts tagged: Iraq

Secretary Vilsack Honors USDA Employees for Service in Iraq and Afghanistan

Patrick Broyles, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, cleans a locally grown potato Dec. 18, 2008, during a visit to a new irrigation project in Muehlah, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wendy Wyman/Released)

Patrick Broyles, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, cleans a locally grown potato Dec. 18, 2008, during a visit to a new irrigation project in Muehlah, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wendy Wyman/Released)

Since 2003, more than 200 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees have sacrificed months – sometimes years – away from loved ones to live and work in war zones, voluntarily lending their skills and knowledge toward the betterment of people halfway around the world.

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack honored nearly 70 of these men and women, all of whom have returned from serving as agricultural experts in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past year. These employees hail from across the United States and represent several different USDA offices and agencies. In their roles as agricultural advisors, they have worked side-by-side with everyone from top officials with Iraq and Afghanistan’s ministries of agriculture to the U.S. military, from farmers, ranchers and students to widows and children. Read more »

USDA Employee Lends his Agricultural Knowhow Toward the Betterment of Iraq

A group of Iraqi women work with vegetables during a Food Preservation Project course offered in Baghdad. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agricultural advisor Thaddeus White and the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) he was assigned to worked with local non-governmental organizations to offer the course to widows and women in need. Photo credit: Thad White.

A group of Iraqi women work with vegetables during a Food Preservation Project course offered in Baghdad. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agricultural advisor Thaddeus White and the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) he was assigned to worked with local non-governmental organizations to offer the course to widows and women in need. Photo credit: Thad White.

For the past year, Thaddeus White provided education and training to the Iraqi people as an advisor for the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)  Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Baghdad. Read more »

USDA Employee Founds 4-H in Iraq, Brings Hope to Iraqi Youth

Since the early twentieth century, 4-H (head-heart-hands-health) has been an avenue for American boys and girls to develop leadership skills, receive vocational training, participate in community service and much more.

Today, 4-H, which is USDA’s premier youth development program, has clubs in 81 different countries including Iraq, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of one USDA employee—Mary Kerstetter. Read more »

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Employees Overcome Risks to Contribute to Stability and Development in Iraq and Afghanistan

When you hear about two employees dedicating their time to an important issue such as this one, the least one can do is acknowledge the level of commitment and importance of the roles they play for the agency and USDA.

Dr. Jaroslaw Fabis, a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer in Raleigh, North Carolina, volunteered in Maysan, a town near the Iranian border, from February to October 2009. Dr. Fabis joined the American Embassy in Iraq as an agriculture advisor for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) to contribute to the goal of stability and development of the Iraqi agricultural community. Part of the U.S. mission in Iraq is to strengthen this particular sector of the community to facilitate their economic autonomy and Dr. Fabis took time out of his regular duties to accomplish just that. As the first veterinarian to visit Maysan, Dr. Fabis worked closely with the Maysan Veterinary Hospital to improve livestock health and productivity.  He also trained 125 veterinarians and veterinary technicians and renovated the Amara City slaughterhouse. For his efforts, Dr. Fabis received letters of appreciation from the U.S. Embassy Agriculture Counselor, the Provincial Directory of Veterinary Hospital and Congressman Joseph Courtney of the Armed Services Committee. FSIS is extremely proud of his dedication, commitment and sacrifice in support of our country, the military and civilian operations in Iraq. Read more »

An Ag Expert Looks Back at Iraq and Afghanistan

Ryan Brewster served as an agricultural expert in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ryan Brewster served as an agricultural expert in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

This morning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recognized the efforts of more than 20 USDA employees who served as civilian agricultural experts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The agricultural experts were part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to provide civilian assistance abroad to help promote long-term economic development. 

One of those agricultural experts, Ryan Brewster, served for nearly three years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are his recollections: Read more »

First USDA Agribusiness Trade Mission to Iraq Arrives in Baghdad

By Dan Berman, Senior Advisor to the Administrator, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service

What comes to your mind when you think of Iraq? Like many, my perceptions were created by years of media reporting. On Saturday, I arrived in Baghdad in a Blackhawk helicopter, and am still processing my feelings of heartbreak and inspiration. Yesterday I was honored to open the first U.S. agribusiness trade mission to Iraq in more than 20 years. At the opening plenary session, nearly 20 U.S. companies and more than 150 Iraqi entrepreneurs and buyers were present, as well as U.S. and Iraqi government officials.  The U.S. companies on the mission are both large and small, representing commodity, consumer-ready food, and forest product industries, as well as agricultural input suppliers, including agricultural equipment and irrigation system manufacturers.

The purpose of this trade mission is simple: to increase U.S. agricultural exports to Iraq, promote joint ventures, and boost investment in Iraq’s developing agricultural sector. Over two days, U.S. and Iraqi producers, processors, buyers, traders, and investors will meet face-to-face in dozens of one-on-one meetings. In these meetings business will be conducted, ideas will be exchanged, and friendships will be forged. The courage and optimism of all the participants cannot be overstated. We hope this mission will be looked back on as a turning point in our relationship. As Ambassador Christopher Hill said in the opening address, we hope we will move from America being represented by General Petraeus and General Odierno, to General Foods and General Mills.

Agriculture is an important part of Iraq’s economy.  It is the country’s second largest economic sector, accounting for 9.6 percent of its gross domestic product and employing about 20 percent of its labor force. The country’s farmers produce wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton, livestock, and poultry.  But, with Iraq’s population expected to nearly double in the next 25 years, agricultural imports, including those produced by Iraqi farmers plus edible oils, pulses, and a variety of consumer-ready products, are needed to feed the country’s growing urban middle class and low-income consumers.  In addition, Iraq has vast natural resources and great potential to further boost agricultural productivity and output of a broad array of farm products. What it needs are agricultural inputs, such as seeds, feed, and machinery to put this potential to work. With greater access to inputs, Iraq’s agricultural sector can develop more quickly. The U.S. companies on this mission can meet these varied needs.

USDA’s strategy also reflects the Strategic Framework Agreement that the United States and Iraq signed in December 2008. That agreement outlines the U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship and recognizes that building a prosperous and diversified economy in Iraq will be key to its stability and integration into the world economy.

I am someone who has worked for over 30 years to promote America’s agricultural exports all over the world. Nothing prepared me for what I have seen here and the spirit and resilience and spirit of the USDA and entire U.S. Government and military team working here in Iraq to give the people here a better chance to live the way anyone would want to, in security and freedom.

USDA Head of Delegation Dan Berman discussed the benefits of expanded agriculture trade with Iraqi TV at the June 8 kickoff for the U.S.-Iraq Agriculture Trade Mission in Baghdad.
USDA Head of Delegation Dan Berman discussed the benefits of expanded agriculture trade with Iraqi TV at the June 8 kickoff for the U.S.-Iraq Agriculture Trade Mission in Baghdad.

Ambassador Christopher R. Hill opened the U.S.-Iraq Agriculture Trade Mission for an audience of more than 175 U.S. and Iraqi farmers, business people and officials.  Minister of Trade Dr. Safaeddin Mohamed Safi, Senior Deputy Minister of Agriculture Dr. Subhi Al-Jumailly and USDA Head of Delegation Dan Berman also offered remarks at the opening ceremony.
Ambassador Christopher R. Hill opened the U.S.-Iraq Agriculture Trade Mission for an audience of more than 175 U.S. and Iraqi farmers, business people and officials.  Minister of Trade Dr. Safaeddin Mohamed Safi, Senior Deputy Minister of Agriculture Dr. Subhi Al-Jumailly and USDA Head of Delegation Dan Berman also offered remarks at the opening ceremony.