USDA Global Food Security Summit Addresses Challenges, Touts Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C., 27 April 2009 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS), Office of Global Analysis, hosted a ‘Summit on Global Food Security Challenges: Monitoring Earth Resources’ in Washington, D.C., on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. Leaders from USDA FAS-OGA, NASA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, USAID, and State Department provided insights into the many challenges of monitoring and maintaining a stable worldwide food supply and the progress that has been made to date.

“Food security is influenced by many factors, such as energy availability, climate change, agriculture, demographics, and socio-economic issues,” said Robert Tetrault, Satellite Imagery Archive Manager, USDA FAS International Production Assessment Division. “Because so many variables are at work, the only way to address food security issues is through collaboration among U.S. government agencies – and among nations of the world.”

The goal of the Summit on Global Food Security Challenges: Monitoring Earth Resources was to provide education on the critical link that exists between a stable food supply and national security in many countries. Global food supplies are often stressed by population growth, political issues, resource depletion and climate change. The USDA FAS Office of Global Analysis assumed leadership in convening the Summit because their daily mission is to monitor crop conditions, and analyze and assess food supplies and distribution worldwide for humanitarian, economic and security purposes.

A featured presentation at the conference demonstrated a USDA FAS partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in a 2008 pilot project in Iraq to successfully identify warning signs in advance of a severe drought. In the project, USDA utilized the technique for integrating meteorological data with high-, medium- and low-resolution satellite imagery supplied by NGA, NASA and other sources to assess crop conditions in parts of Iraq where observations by agricultural experts on the ground were impossible to obtain.

“By combining the satellite imaging capabilities and expertise of three government agencies, USDA FAS Office of Global Analysis was able to develop a sustainable technique for identifying drought conditions and agricultural failure long before harvest time,” stated Robert Tetrault. “The U.S. and Iraqi governments used this information as input in the drought mitigation plans. They were able to assure adequate food and feed supplies and help farmers affected by the drought.”

Most importantly, the new technique developed by USDA-FAS in partnership with NASA and NGA can be replicated to monitor food supplies elsewhere in the Middle East and in Africa.

Over 100 people attended the USDA Summit on Global Food Security Challenges: Monitoring Earth Resources. Attendees included representatives from several U.S. government agencies, as well as personnel from Congressional offices, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations. Copies of the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations will be available on the USDA Crop Explorer website at and also at .

In addition to USDA’s Robert Tetrault, the list of speakers and panelists at the USDA Summit on Global Food Security Challenges: Monitoring Earth Resources included:

  • Maurice House, Deputy Administrator, USDA FAS, Office of Global Analysis
  • Dr. Bradley Doorn, Director, USDA FAS, Office of Global Analysis, International Production Assessment Division (IPAD)
  • Col. Stephen Lynch, JCS, J5 SIAD, Pentagon
  • Daniel Whitley, Deputy Director, USDA FAS, Office of Global Analysis, Global Policy Analysis
  • Jonathan Gressel, Former Agricultural Counselor, Baghdad, USDA FAS
  • Carl Stuekerjuergen, Director, eGEOINT, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Dr. Stanley Wood, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute
  • Gary Eilerts, Program Manager, FEWS-NET, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Jack Hild, Assistant Chief Information Officer for Data, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Compton Tucker, Senior Earth Scientist, Climate Change Program Office, NASA
  • Patrick Hudak, Foreign Affairs Officers, Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, U.S. State Department

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has the primary responsibility for USDA’s international activities—market development, trade agreements and negotiations, and the collection and analysis of statistics and market information. As such a primary mission of FAS is to target, collect, analyze, and disseminate timely, objective, useful, and cost-effective global crop condition and agricultural production information. The purpose is to provide unbiased commodity estimates and forecasts to create a marketing edge for U.S. producers in world markets. For more information contact Robert Tetrault, Satellite Imagery Archive Manager, Contract Officer Technical Representative, USDA FAS or call 202-720-1071 Email Contact .

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Established in 1997, Global Marketing Insights Inc. provides a wide range of geospatial industry based business planning and market research services, including targeted product/service market studies and competitive market research. Global Marketing Insights, Inc. executives have worked with USDA FAS since 1988 and have assisted in the development and implementation of the last 4 annual summits as well as implementation of the FAS IPAD strategic plan. As authors of the NOAA and USGS International Remote Sensing Studies Global Marketing Insights, Inc. is the largest global provider of remote sensing information. For more information contact Sherry Loy at Email Contact or call 216-525-0600 or visit to preview the latest free remote sensing studies.

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