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 Randy Frescoln of Norwalk, Iowa, who served as a senior agricultural advisor with both a task force and the Regional Command-East located at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012.
"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, Frescoln helped Afghan business owners obtain credit, enabling them to build and improve their agricultural processing facilities. He also developed and implemented a regional strategy to help the U.S. military, U.S. Agency for International Development and USDA communicate with each other about their agricultural value chain development activities in eastern Afghanistan. His efforts were recognized by U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker who presented him with the U.S. Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award in January 2012. Frescoln is a Business and Cooperative Program Director with USDA Rural Development in Des Moines, Iowa. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in farm operations as well as a Master of Science degree in professional agriculture, both from Iowa State University in Ames. Formerly, Frescoln served as a USDA agricultural expert in Afghanistan from 2004-2005 as well as in Iraq from 2006-2007.
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