Former and current Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers, implementing partners, and F2F’s “father,” former 13-term Nebraska Congressman Mr. Douglas Bereuter, gathered in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to celebrate Farmer-to-Farmer’s 30th anniversary.
Dr. Susan G. Schram moderated the event, which kicked off with a five-minute video introducing the program. Congressman Bereuter took the podium and recalled his role in the launch of F2F, which, since 1985, has placed volunteers from all 50 states in 16,700 assignments in 112 countries. Mr. Bereuter told of his 1983 trip to El Salvador and Guatemala where he saw first-hand how farmers from his district could help make the recently nationalized farms more productive for the local people.
Bereuter explained that the idea of volunteer technical assistance already existed, though it hadn’t fully germinated. He explained that getting approval from then-USAID administrator Peter McPherson was a “tough sell,” as Bereuter was told the U.S. didn’t need another Peace Corps. He persisted and soon F2F had $400,000 for its pilot program. VOCA, half of the pre-merger precursor of ACDI/VOCA, was F2F’s first implementer. ACDI/VOCA has since implemented some two-thirds of F2F’s many assignments. Mr. Bereuter lauded individual volunteers and concluded: “the greatest resource we have is talented Americans in every aspect of life.”
Next, a panel of F2F volunteers shared their experiences: Brian Foster of Minnesota spoke of his work with a women’s soybean co-op in northern Ghana, Gary Geisler of Wisconsin talked about his assignments with dairy farmers in Lebanon, Judith Moses described her time in Mali working to increase browse for ruminants, and Bill Nichols outlined his marketing work with a farmers’ association in Malawi.
Deputy Assistant to the Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security Dr. Saharah Moon Chapotin thanked implementing partners and volunteers. She praised F2F’s efforts to reduce and ultimately end poverty around the world. She cited statistics that capture F2F’s full reach: 1.3 million farmer families affected by F2F in its 30 years. ACDI/VOCA is proud to be an original implementing partner of F2F.