By Ashley Colpaart, RD LD
Last month, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led the U.S. delegation and served as chairman at the 36th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Ministerial Conference in Rome.
“FAO is the United Nations’ organization whose mandate is to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, improve agricultural productivity, promote rural development and, ultimately, provide all people at all times with access to the food they need for an active and healthy life,” said Merrigan. “This is the first time in 20 years that the United States will chair this ministerial conference and it comes at a critical time following the World Summit on Food Security.
President Obama has committed the United States to a whole-of-government approach to tackle the problem of global food security and the United States will work with more than 130 countries as we move forward with this important effort.”
Merrigan is the first woman to chair the conference. As chair she oversaw discussions on the ongoing FAO reform effort and was the officiate as heads of delegations presented their country’s view of the state of food and agriculture at the conference’s plenary session.
During the session, Merrigan met with Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP). “This meeting was an opportunity for me to thank the WFP on behalf of USDA and the entire U.S. government and reiterate how much the United States values its partnership with this important organization,” Merrigan said.
Merrigan says the WFP works tirelessly to fight hunger and food insecurity around the world. As the United States finalizes its global hunger and food security strategy, it will rely on the WFP’s resources and expertise in safety nets, storage, transportation and logistics to ensure its efforts have the most impact in developing countries.
Merrigan also met with Iraq’s acting minister of agriculture and discussed the initiatives being implemented by USDA’s Provincial Reconstruction Team’s agricultural advisors. The team aims to revitalize Iraq’s agricultural sector and the various USDA programs and activities helping to strengthen the Iraqi government in the areas of rebuilding agricultural markets and improving management of natural resources.
Information compiled from USDA press releases and www.FarmFutures.com.