AGRICULTURAL COUNSELORS FORUM
The Agricultural Counselors Forum (ACF) is an informal, voluntary group established in
Washington, DC for the purpose of improving communication and understanding within the
diplomatic corps on agricultural and "food systems" issues. The group is
comprised of agricultural attaches and other professionals interested in sharing
information, particularly (but not exclusively) regarding U.S. agriculture and related
Formed in the 1970s, the ACF has acted informally to
provide the agricultural counselors with their own specialized platform on these issues.
The primary activity is a quarterly luncheon at which speakers from the legislative and
executive branches of government, as well as from the private sector, present ideas and
enable the participants to ask questions. Occasionally, trips to agricultural functions in
the U.S. heartland are organized to provide a better grasp of the fundamentals facing U.S.
ACF assists agricultural counselors in the following ways:
- improves individual understanding of both bilateral and
multilateral issues within a broader agricultural dimension;
- enhances communication and idea-sharing within the
ag-related diplomatic community, thus enabling ag counselors to represent both U.S. and
their own country's perspectives more effectively
to their home-based constituencies;
- provides a unique channel to the U.S. heartland which offers
additional opportunities to communicate and learn from ag practitioners engaged in the
daily tasks associated with the modern food system; and
- performs a useful service by giving U.S. government and
diplomatic officials the chance to meet informally to raise questions, discuss issues, and
UKRAINE -- ACF-sponsored luncheons at National Press Club, on
Capitol Hill and in leading Washington Hotels draw international
leaders into agri-dialogue.
The U.S. agro-food system is one of the world's largest and most modern economic engines,
providing the nation of 230 million with the most plentiful, lowest-cost food in history.
It is an enormous and complex system which intersects with virtually all other phases of
economic and political life in the countryside - with strong connections to Washington.
For even the most experienced foreign observer, learning to
understand what is happening in U.S. agriculture - particularly in relation to legislation
at the national level - is a daunting challenge. ACF is designed to facilitate the
necessary and ongoing educational experience for agricultural counselors.
ACF produces benefits for members and supporters by increasing interactive programming and
two-way information flow between the Washington diplomatic community, the U.S. government,
and American agriculture. This is accomplished with cross-sectoral/problem-solving exchanges, luncheons, social functions and
special reports. ACF has accelerated awareness and understanding of key issues facing U.S.
agriculture and has increased information flow. ACF has also provided participants with
new contacts and perspectives from U.S. grassroots decision-makers.
CONTACT -- Naima Mansur of World Bank/GEF, Vic Leviste,
agricultural counselor of Philippine Embassy, and Nick Hollis of
The Agribusiness Council share a light moment at an ACF program.
Method of Operations
ACF has achieved its aims working informally through various association communication
techniques including e-mail newsletters, luncheons, questionnaires, specialized
committees, field trips, and interactive programming with state agribusiness councils. ACF
acts as an informal educational clearinghouse presenting other countries' agricultural
perspectives and assisting link-ups with agricultural specialty groups. For example, a
special luncheon was organized at the Capitol under the sponsorship of U.S. Senator Jesse
Helms (R-NC) and Representative Charles Stenholm (D-TX).
Beyond the reactivation of ACF's luncheon series in
1995-97, the future direction of activities aims at expanding communication opportunities.
The steering committee is contemplating a chatroom feature for the website. ACF
participants automatically receive state agribusiness network memoranda dealing with
issues such as genetic modification, corporate corruption and international trade. In a
post-Seattle/WTO environment, this type of exchange can be useful in reducing costly
international economic disputes.
ACF participants automatically receive invitations to
Washington-based functions of The Agribusiness Council (ABC) and Agri-Energy Roundtable
(AER) which are affiliated, nonprofit/tax-exempt associations involved in agriculture and
agribusiness networking. ABC is providing secretariat functions for ACF.
COUNSELORS listen as Philippine Ambassador Rabe discusses food
security issues at reception honoring ACF. More than 50 embassies
have participated in ACF functions, including trade missions and
ACF is supported by voluntary contributions and subscriptions to information services from
leading embassies. Several banks and international companies who share ACF's commitment to
expanded dialogue and networking with international trade/development issues, have
provided support, but are not associated with ACF activities (except listing in ACF
publications). ACF has received support from The Agribusiness Council (ABC) and its U.N.-affiliate,
Roundtable (AER). These two organizations have more than fifty-five years of combined
experience and activity in trade support activities.
Agricultural Counselors Forum
P.O. Box 5565
Washington DC 20016
Tel: (202) 296-4563