February 28, 2023
For the full discussion, watch the event here.
For photos of the event, see our album here.
DES MOINES – At a town hall with Iowa leaders hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Representatives Randy Feenstra (R-IA-4) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-1) spoke out on how U.S. engagement around the world matters locally to Iowa communities.
“As the breadbasket to our content and the world, it is vital that Iowa agriculture remains productive and profitable for our farmers, producers, and our economy,” said Rep. Feenstra. “From negotiating strong trade agreements to opening foreign markets, the success of Iowa agriculture supports global food security and American values. I appreciate the collaborative work of USGLC and Iowa producers to feed and fuel the world.”
“What we used to do in the United States, through either food or development, is send farmers to help other countries utilize their resources. That is a form of diplomacy which is desperately needed but that seems to have lost favor,” said Rep. Miller-Meeks. “We have this isolationist front in the United States, both on the right and on the left, that I think we need to overcome because it is a national security issue.”
On stopping the next pandemic, Rep. Miller-Meeks added, “Our leadership and global health, working within the World Health Organization, and other entities I think is very important because ultimately, there is no respect for boundaries when it comes to germs. And so it protects those countries and it protects us.”
America’s investments in diplomacy and development globally benefit Iowa locally, with more than $16 billion global exports from Iowa in 2021. Last year, more nearly 400,000 jobs in Iowa were supported by international trade. Of the more than 3,000 Iowa businesses that export goods, 82 percent are small or medium-sized businesses. Through thousands of local businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs, Iowa families are benefiting from America’s leadership on the global stage.
“Can we sustainably produce enough nutritious food to feed the nine and a half to ten billion people who will be on our planet in 2046 when Iowa celebrates its 200th anniversary of statehood, because it’s not clear?” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn. “What’s absolutely certain is that if there’s not peace in the world, we’re not going to be able to meet that challenge.”
Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Executive Director Patricia Grote, Iowa International Center, also gave remarks during the lively conversation on the importance of U.S. leadership and why leading globally matters locally. The forum, hosted by USGLC, brought together business, non-profit, veteran, faith, and community leaders from Des Moines and the wider region.
“Supporting sustainable development is not just the right thing to do, but it’s in the best interest of Iowa, the Heartland, and the U.S., said Cargill’s Sydney Pokorny. “By helping to address poverty and food insecurity in developing and underdeveloped nations, we’re improving people’s lives, but we’re also building new markets for American agricultural products.”
“Iowans understand the importance of U.S. development and diplomacy when it comes to protecting their economic and national security interests, as well as projecting the very best of America’s values to the rest of the world,” said Michelle Bekkering, USGLC National Engagement Director. “We welcome the leadership shown by Representatives Feenstra and Miller-Meeks and Ambassador Quinn—who understand that leading globally truly matters locally to communities across Iowa. We’re fortunate to see Iowa leaders committed to advancing U.S. leadership on the global stage.”
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) 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.