September 30, 2021

Congressional, Business, and Local Community Leaders to Discuss Importance of Foreign AID to Families in America’s Heartland

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) hosted its inaugural Heartland Summit to highlight how foreign aid and America’s engagement in the world is critical to the Midwest. Speakers included Congressman Randy Feenstra (R-IA) and Dean Phillips (D-MN), Ambassador and former Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA), Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, USMC (Ret.), and Jon Nash, Corporate Senior Vice President, Cargill.

From stopping the global Covid-19 pandemic to supporting economic competition as one in five jobs in the Heartland depends on exports, there was widespread consensus that U.S. global engagement is good for the health, economic, and national security of American families. Heartland farmers also feed millions around the world, demonstrating the compassion of the American people.

“I am absolutely passionate about talking about what Iowa does to feed the world,” said Congressman Randy Feenstra (R-IA). “When you export, it creates markets where we can keep prices sustainable for our producers, which then turns to help our local main streets or hospitals or schools – it’s all tied together.”

“U.S. global leadership can’t just come from muscle, it’s got to come from hustle,” said Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN). “We’ve got to use soft diplomacy, we’ve got to feed those in the world and we’ve got to vaccinate those who right now cannot. We can regain our mantle of leadership by doing the most human initiatives, and I believe this begins with feeding people.”

“As a global company headquartered in America’s Heartland, Cargill recognizes how important it is to invest in global development and ensure farmers have access to markets overseas,” said Jon Nash, Corporate Senior Vice President, Protein & Salt Leader, Cargill. “At a time when agricultural exports are vital to sustaining local economies, supporting American jobs, and nourishing people around the world, Cargill is pleased to partner with the USGLC on the Heartland Initiative.”

“Development is a lot less expensive than war, and if we make investments both in terms of time and effort and an approach to the world, the worth is going to be less risk that we have to put men and women at risk,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, USMC (Ret.). “We won’t ever eliminate that risk, but we can certainly reduce it. And that to me is worth just about everything.”

“Iowans and other leaders across the Heartland know they play an important role in America’s global engagement,” said Terry Branstad, former Iowa Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China. “We build friendships that help us feed the world, advance our economic interests, protect our national security, and showcase the best of our American values.”

Recorded remarks were also given by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jodi Ernst (R-IA), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

“Today we heard from Members of Congress, Senators, and business, faith, and community leaders who get what it’s worth in the Heartland when America steps up on the global stage – particularly during the global pandemic,” said Liz Schrayer, USGLC President and CEO. “What’s foreign aid worth in America’s Heartland? In short, everything when it comes to the health and prosperity of our families and our futures.”

The event also showcased four personal stories from Heartland leaders as part of USGLC’s Foreign Aid: What’s It Worth campaign: Fay Beydoun, Executive Director, American Arab Chamber of Commerce from Michigan; Erika Camarillo, Site Supervisor, Bethany Christian Services from Indiana; Bernie Stone, U.S. Army, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) from Iowa; and Kent Winter, Farmer and President, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. Each highlighted the important return on America’s investments in diplomacy and development across the Heartland.

Cities across America’s Heartland issued proclamations today, making September 28th U.S. Heartland Global Engagement Day. Cities include Bismarck, ND; Fort Wayne, IN; Fremont, NE; Geneva, NE; Kokomo, IN; La Porte, IN; Milwaukee, WI; Noblesville, IN; Topeka, KS; and Toledo, OH.

Over the summer, the USGLC unveiled its new nationwide “What’s It Worth” campaign to highlight the countless benefits of U.S. investments in America’s global engagement on Americans’ everyday lives. “Foreign Aid: What’s It Worth” is USGLC’s largest campaign investment ever and showcases the impacts of diplomacy, development, and global health on America’s health, safety, and economic interests.  This multi-year education and advocacy messaging campaign is being deployed across social media and digital platforms, including digital ads, and through local and regional events.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.