62 honored at USDA headquarters for their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently recognized the efforts of 62 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees who have helped revitalize the agricultural sectors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among those honored during a ceremony June 4 was Dr. Richard Fite of North Hampton, N.H., who served as a senior agricultural advisor at the Northern Regional Command in Balkh Province, Afghanistan, from 2010 to 2011.
"I’m honored to recognize these brave and devoted men and women for their tremendous service to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq," said Vilsack. "These USDA employees have played a vital role in furthering political and social stability throughout the world by building a foundation on which the economies of these countries will prosper."
USDA agricultural advisors began serving in Afghanistan in 2003 and Iraq in 2006. Their goal has been to help Afghanistan and Iraq rebuild their agricultural sectors by planning and implementing reconstruction and agricultural development projects. Activities vary depending on the needs of the area, but can range from mentoring local agricultural officials to improving food and animal production and marketing systems to veterinary infrastructure, soil and water conservation, and reclamation programs. Advisors working at the national government level help build the capacity of government ministries and collaborate with ministry staff to develop long-term strategies for agricultural development.
In Afghanistan, Fite worked with the U.S. Department of Defense Commander’s Emergency Response Program to identify opportunities for supporting and rebuilding the country’s agricultural infrastructure. His efforts led to the modernization and expansion of a milk processing plant used by dairy farmers, the development of livestock vaccination programs and the training of Afghan Ministry of Agriculture staff in program budgeting and design. Fite also supervised four other provincial-level agricultural advisors and advised the International Security Assistance Force on minimizing the impact of military operations on agriculture.
Fite is a risk analyst with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Fite received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Haverford College in Haverford, Pa. He went on to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia, as well as a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Fite also completed fellowships with the Kellogg Foundation and Brookings Institution.
Since 2003, more than 250 USDA personnel have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 50 agricultural advisors are currently assigned there.
To learn more about USDA’s efforts in those countries, visit