Feed Bites

Speed Dating Government Style - the USAEDC Attaché Seminar

Written by: Mallory Gaines   |   July 21, 2022

Trade, Federal agencies, Brazil

Remember speed dating? Those magical minutes when you sat across from a stranger and tried to ascertain if there was a spark of emotion or maybe if it was love at first sight? Well, that is exactly what the U.S. Agriculture Export Development Council (USAEDC) Annual Attaché Seminar feels like! Just kidding, but the seminar is often compared to speed dating.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has staff posted at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world who are working to enhance opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports. Every year, a number of FAS staff, or attachés, come back to Washington, D.C., for training, meetings and sometimes, for re-assignments. The attaché seminar takes advantage of this time to bring these attachés and the community of agricultural organizations, like the American Feed Industry Association, together for consultations and to discuss and learn about the changing global environment for U.S. agricultural products.

This year, AFIA’s “Team Trade” was joined by AFIA International Trade Committee leadership for 25-minute attaché consultations with the FAS staff from Vietnam, Brazil and Rome. Once the gong rang, we only had 25 precious minutes to meet, greet, educate and ask!

For our meeting with the FAS staff newly posted to Vietnam, we focused on AFIA’s Market Access Program (MAP) funded work, primarily in pet food, AFIA’s ambitions for future feed additive activities in the market and FAS’s United Tastes campaign. Through United Tastes, the AFIA features the many benefits and nutritional value of U.S. pet food. You can check out the campaign on Facebook- search for United Tastes. Currently, the AFIA’s posts are the most “liked”!

Recently, the AFIA received FAS Emerging Markets Program (EMP) funds to do an animal feed market assessment in Brazil. We shared the news in our meeting with FAS Brazil and re-established our commitment to collaborating and fostering a stronger working relationship in the Brazilian marketplace.

International policy was on agenda with the attaché from Rome, who has the unique role of representing U.S. agricultural interests at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). We discussed sustainability and the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) meeting, as well as the Codex Alimentarius (Codex) and the importance of the post’s support when doing outreach to other governments.

The event also offered seminars on a slew of topics of interest to the agriculture and government community alike, from panels discussing the new trade environment and administration policy, to hearing from the FAO on threats to food security, to discussions on the continued supply chain disruptions to the evolving Chinese market, where AFIA’s Gina Tumbarello presented as a part of the panel.

The attaché seminar is a great opportunity for interacting with the FAS, and we were so excited it was back in person! Speed dating can be daunting, but we went in with an open heart and made connections that will last a lifetime…or…at least that will help our international efforts and promote U.S. animal food abroad.

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