USSEC attended a series of events and meetings in Europe from October 16-20.
USSEC consultant David Green of the U.S. Sustainability Alliance and USSEC Project Manager - Market Access/FTO Katie Williams attended SIAL Paris (a major international food exhibition) and the U.N’s Committee on World Food Security event in Rome, in addition to conducting one-on-one meetings in Brussels, Belgium and Dordrecht, Netherlands.
“During SIAL Paris and our meetings in Brussels and Rome, David and I were able to have face to face meetings with contacts from various Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) offices, retailers, food processors, and others,” stated Ms. Williams. “During these conversations, we were able to discern that European retailers are extremely interested in sustainability and recognize the potential for collaboration.”
Changing mindsets takes time. The successes of the Global Broad-based Initiative (GBI) program over the past two years are steps in the right direction, says Ms. Williams. Ongoing dialogue and communication with contacts made to date and with new stakeholders was appreciated by EU stakeholders. This base of contacts will be leveraged and built on to further improve the understanding and appreciation of the reality of sustainability and conservation in the U.S. The sustainability and conservation production processes used in U.S. agriculture, forestry, and fishery products are viewed positively by European audiences following outreach, education and information exchange on missions such as the above.
USSEC’s participation helps communicate to European audiences that U.S. agriculture and industry is sustainable and that many cooperators participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation schemes. Also, the fact that some 95 percent of farms in the U.S. are family farms and that the U.S. has been enacting conservation laws and policies for more than 100 years were two points which were both new and enlightening to the European audience.