USMEF participated in the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Global Attaché Conference this week in Washington, D.C., taking advantage of an opportunity to gather insights and updates not only from FAS leadership, but also from USDA representatives from around the world. Individual consultations with attachés allowed USMEF and USDA to fine-tune strategies and engage in discussions on enhancing collaborative efforts related to global marketing and trade policy activities.
FAS Administrator Phil Karsting reinforced his commitment to strengthening resources within the agency, focusing on securing necessary funding and investing in human capital. Thad Lively, USMEF senior vice president for trade access, joined Karsting for lunch, where the administrator elaborated on a new plan for FAS to roll over 6 percent of its funding to the next fiscal year to allow for uninterrupted operations of overseas posts during periods when budget allocations are delayed.
In the keynote address, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden reiterated USDA’s support for FAS and its efforts to expand U.S. exports, noting that cooperators are integral to this success. One of the conference’s sessions included an update on booming e-commerce opportunities in China, with USMEF’s tremendously successful online pork promotions highlighted. Other sessions included a working group on tackling the challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, a presentation on the newly-formed U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance and a meeting of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program coalitions.