The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

54 OCTOBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS Reaching Out Across the United States AFSA at FarmFest in Minnesota In early August, AFSA Presi- dent Ambassador Barbara Stephenson accepted the invitation of U.S. Representa- tive TimWalz (D-Minn.) to travel to Minnesota to attend FarmFest. Rep. Walz, a member of the House Agriculture Com- mittee, is a strong advocate for the Foreign Service’s work opening up markets around the world for American farm- ers, ranchers and produc- ers of farm equipment and biotechnology. FarmFest is the second- largest agricultural event in the country, showcasing products and services related to the Minnesota farm and ranch sectors. As a state, Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation for total agricultural production and fourth for agricultural exports. It is no wonder, then, that members of the House Agriculture Committee made the trek to FarmFest to be able to hear first-hand from a wide range of stakeholders hoping to shape the next farm bill. Guided by MatthewWohl- man, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Amb. Ste- phenson spoke with leaders in the Minnesota soy and corn sectors, gave remarks at the event’s main venue and was interviewed twice on the radio about the value of diplomacy and development to Minnesota agriculture. A consistent theme that emerged from dozens of spokespersons for the industry was the importance of trade and the need to continue expanding mar- ket access for agricultural products. For AFSA, it was a perfect opportunity to “connect the dots” for individuals in the agricultural community, discussing how American diplomats and development professionals work for them, facilitating market access for their exports overseas. The huge round of applause for Governing Board member Phil Shull, former agricultural attaché in Beijing, demon- strated that the corn and soy producers present under- stand the vital importance of FAS’ work in keeping prices up for agricultural exports. This visit also follows up on a “white paper” by Mr. Shull and former AFSA FAS Vice President Mark Petry arguing that agricultural audiences are a natural out- reach target for AFSA and the Foreign Service, given their understanding of the impor- Ambassador Stephenson (center) with Retiree Representative Phil Shull (right) and Matthew Wohlman, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, reviewing the impact of Minnesota farmers worldwide. AFSA/CATHERINEKANNENBERG AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson (center) speaks to Linder Farm Network broadcaster Lynn Ketelsen (right) at the 2017 FarmFest in Minnesota. AFSA/CATHERINEKANNENBERG