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WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2009— The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) today announced that S. Rodrick McSherry, a native of New Mexico, has been assigned the top agriculture position in Afghanistan. McSherry will begin his assignment as agricultural minister counselor to Afghanistan this month.

"USDA is committed to assisting the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, and McSherry’s work there will be of critical importance in building Afghanistan’s agricultural system," said FAS Administrator Michael Michener. "His extensive knowledge and solid leadership experience from his previous positions abroad will serve him well in his new role."

McSherry will be the principal officer responsible for coordinating agriculture policies and activities in Afghanistan, focused on rebuilding Afghanistan’s agriculture and its government’s capacity to deliver essential farm services. He will work closely with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture to implement a strategy to improve farmer income, conserve and protect natural resources, and rebuild key government services to the Afghan farm sector.

Since 2003, USDA has deployed 58 people for medium- and long- term assignments in Afghanistan. USDA projects to-date have included installing windmills to pump water for irrigation and livestock, training veterinarians to detect and treat parasites, rehabilitating a university’s agricultural research laboratory, stabilizing eroded river banks and irrigation canals, developing post-harvest storage facilities, rehabilitating degraded orchards, mentoring provincial directors of agriculture to help them improve their services to farmers, and reforestation.

This overseas appointment is the latest in a series of international positions held by McSherry since joining FAS in 1985. He served as agricultural attaché in Moscow from 1989-1993, after which he served as senior agricultural attaché in Mexico City from 1996-1998. In the past 10 years McSherry has served in several posts as agricultural counselor overseas including in Caracas from 1998-2001, in Bangkok from 2002-2006, in Baghdad from 2006-2007, and most recently since 2007, in London. He completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies at New Mexico State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture.

USDA is helping Afghanistan revitalize its agricultural sector through a variety of activities. USDA-led programs such as the Cochran Fellowship Program, the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program, and the Faculty Exchange Program have brought 50 Afghans to the United States since 2004 for specialized training lasting from two weeks to five months in duration. Since 2003, USDA has provided roughly $229 million in food aid to support a wide range of agricultural and humanitarian activities.

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Contact: Katie Gorscak


PR 0303-09

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