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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Visits Des Moines for World Food Prize and Trilateral Meetings with Afghan and Pakistani Ministers of Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off his participation in the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa, today by visiting a corn and soybean farm with Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi. Secretary Vilsack invited Ministers Gondal and Rahimi to be his guests in Des Moines through Thursday, Oct. 14, where they will continue to discuss their shared vision for building vibrant agricultural economies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Dr. Norman Borlaug, the founder of the World Food Prize, challenged us all to eradicate global hunger and share the knowledge and skills necessary to end famine," said Vilsack. "The United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan are working together to meet Dr. Borlaug’s challenge, and I am grateful to Minister Rahimi and Minister Gondal for traveling to Iowa to conduct these important trilateral U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan talks on agriculture and food security. This is a valuable opportunity for specific, open and forthright discussions on the immediate and future food needs of Afghans and Pakistanis—efforts that will not only improve stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire region, but also strengthen security here in the United States."

During their farm tour, Secretary Vilsack and the Ministers participated in a discussion with faculty from Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences about the important role U.S. land-grant universities play in linking extension services to farmers -- a fundamental piece of American agriculture that is missing in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The World Food Prize program will include an open discussion with Vilsack, Rahimi and Gondal on Thursday, Oct. 14, about the challenges facing Afghan and Pakistani agriculture. The event will be webcast live and available for viewing for 25 days at

Vilsack and the Ministers will also attend Thursday evening’s Laureate Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, where the Secretary will speak with high school students at 7:40 p.m. EDT and all guests in attendance at 8:40 p.m. The evening’s program will be webcast at

The World Food Prize is one of the world’s foremost international dialogues on food security. The 2010 conference, entitled, "Take It to the Farmer: Reaching the World’s Smallholders," is expected to draw more than 1,000 guests to the Des Moines Downtown Marriot, including policymakers, industry leaders, researchers and other experts.  David Beckmann and Jo Luck were named the 2010 World Food Prize Laureates for their achievements in building Bread for the World and Heifer International, two successful grassroots organizations focused on ending hunger and poverty for millions of people around the world. The Laureate Award Ceremony will take place at the Iowa State Capitol on the evening of Oct. 14.

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Contact: Matt Herrick (202) 341-6053


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