Director-General  QU Dongyu

Read-out of the FAO Director-General’s meeting with Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

04/10/2022

Rome – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), today met and discussed the longstanding partnership between FAO and the United States of America. The Under Secretary was joined at the meeting by Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the USDA. 

The Director-General expressed his appreciation for the USA’s ongoing support to FAO’s mandate, noting his positive, constructive meeting in Washington, D.C. on 23 September 2022 with the US Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas J. Vilsack. He also congratulated the USA for its recent White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, noting the important signal the event sends on the importance of food security both domestically and internationally.

The Director-General and the Under Secretary shared views on the importance of innovation, science, technology, and the private sector in catalyzing agrifood systems transformation in the context of the climate crisis. In discussing the climate crisis and its impact on agrifood systems, the two noted that science and innovation – including research and development – can play a key role in enabling farmers to produce more with less while adapting to climate change.

In this respect, the Under Secretary informed the Director-General that the US Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities initiative, USDA will, among other things, aim to collect information and data on innovative practices that can assist farmers in adaptation to the stresses posed by climate change.

For his part, the Director-General noted the complementarity between the USDA initiative and FAO’s Global Action on One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) programme and future options for collaboration, while also highlighting that the world can benefit from the USA’s experiences in agricultural production, innovation and other areas. 

The Director-General and the Under Secretary also discussed the importance of collecting additional data on performance of agricultural inputs, practices and approaches in different climate change contexts, in order to feed more informed decision-making by farmers, policy makers and others in adapting to the climate crisis. They also discussed the importance of integrated water management and seeds, with the Director-General noting these would be increasingly important areas of work for FAO moving forward. 

Finally, the Director-General expressed his hope that the Under Secretary could join the upcoming Global Conference on Sustainable Plant Production - with the themes innovation, efficiency and resilience - that will take place at FAO from 2-4 November 2022. 

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