International food, agriculture board meets at MSU

The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) convened at MSU April 9-10. Part of the United States Agency for International Development, each board member has been appointed by President Barack Obama. MSU President Waded Cruzado holds a position on the distinguished board, comprised of scholars and agricultural specialists focused on food safety, production and solving international hunger.

A public meeting on April 10 at 8:30 a.m. began with a welcome from President Cruzado, and a tribal college panel. The tribal panel included the presidents of the Aaniiih Nakoda College, Blackfeet Community College and Little Big Horn College.

In her welcome, Cruzado emphasized MSU’s important role in research as a land grant university. “We take very seriously our mission as a land grant university, our mission of teaching, research and outreach,” Cruzado said of the board.

Brady J. Deaton, chancellor emeritus of the University of Missouri, is the chair of the board. “The purpose of BIFAD, when it was founded in 1975, was to ensure that the strengths of our land grant university system, and our research universities in this country play a major role in advising and linking with our foreign assistance mission,” Deaton said.

Deaton also welcomed the attendees of the public meeting. “We try to emphasize our desire to take our message to the public broadly and this is consistent with the administration of USAID. We are particularly happy when we get the opportunity to interact with the university community,” Deaton said.

Members of the board spent Thursday afternoon working with different colleges on the MSU campus. Marty McVey, a businessman and member of the BIFAD board, talked to students in the college of business about “entrepreneurship and international development.”

Dean of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Kregg Aytes, found the time students got to spend with McVey to be valuable. “Anytime you do something like this, and it raises awareness among our own student and faculty population of an issue, I think there’s value in that,” Aytes said. From Houston, Texas, McVey’s view on business is influenced by cultural factors that differ from most students in Montana.

It also gives people, such as members of BIFAD, a view of MSU’s role in research. “It allows them to see some of the research that’s going on at our university and how it is consistent with the mission of USAID and of BIFAD, and I think that is very helpful,” Aytes said.

Sarah Janzen, assistant professor in agricultural economics and Nicol Rae, dean of the College of Letters and Science, hosted Deaton. An agricultural economist himself, his focus is putting agriculture first. He participated in a question and answer session with agricultural economics students. “Students could really ask the questions that were most relevant to them,” Janzen said.

Board members also worked with students in the College of Engineering and the Division of Student Success. A discussion on global food security was also held at the Procrastinator Theatre.

The other members of the board include Harold L. Martin, Sr., chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, and Catherine Ann Bertini, professor at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.