Abstract: We’ve all heard the affirmation that America’s farmers and ranchers feed the world, and to wit, in 2021 the United States exported some $177 billion in agricultural goods. But it turns out the world is a surprisingly big and complicated place, and it’s not as easy as loading up a truck. This presentation will discuss how the U.S. Department of Agriculture works with the agriculture industry to navigate the ever-changing waters of agriculture across borders, and the many barriers that exist, including attitudes towards biotechnology, the difficulty finding ships to transport, and the surprisingly heated debate about those tiny PLU labels on produce.
Jim Suits is a Project Management Officer in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). In his role, he supports USDA’s trade capacity building programs by advising on and enabling best practices of project management; and acts as a senior advisor to an annual programming portfolio of several hundred million dollars, including streamlining procedures, and figuring out how best to employ the entire toolbox to fulfill a constantly-shifting mandate. He previously worked as a front-line project manager on a variety of initiatives relating to agricultural statistics, and monitoring and evaluation of program activities in emerging market countries. Originally from a small town in Upper Michigan, 98 miles from the nearest Starbucks, he has degrees from the University of Michigan, Colorado State University, and George Mason University, is certified in project management, contracts management, and grants management, speaks four languages, and has conducted fieldwork in 23 states and 17 foreign countries.