Every day, as we consume more information about the world around us, the world seems to get smaller and smaller and the problems of the world start hitting closer to home. In Minnesota, we can feel the impacts of the world closing in when a war in Europe means bare shelves at our grocery stores and sky-high prices at our gas pumps. In the face of such turmoil on the global stage, it is vital that America redoubles our efforts to lead globally with diplomacy and development. These global partnerships will help all Americans, including Minnesotans like us. We know Minnesota has a bright future when America leads on the global stage.
Minnesota is already leading the way in investing in diplomatic relationships by fostering public-private partnerships in emerging markets and agriculture production. Cargill, a Minnesota-based company, has a longstanding partnership with partners in Vietnam. In 2015, Cargill’s partnership in Vietnam won the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence. In 2020, the company trained over 860,000 farmers in Vietnam in sustainable production techniques, utilizing technology to share pricing information with farmers, the government, and other partners. This commitment to Vietnam is paying off for us here in Minnesota. Vietnam is a fast-growing partner country for our agricultural exports, with our investments in the developing world bringing prosperity back to Minnesotans.
As members of both the MetroNorth and Minneapolis Regional Chambers of Commerce, we know how vital trade is to Minnesota businesses and Minnesota families. Trade with global partners – both new partnerships and old – brings prosperity back to Minnesotans. In fact, last year, our state exported over $7 billion in agriculture exports to countries like Canada, Mexico, and China, and international trade supported nearly 750,000 jobs in Minnesota. Today, half of U.S. exports are now headed to the developing world, and Minnesota is on the front lines of developing new partners and markets in the fast-growing emerging economies like Vietnam.
Partnerships like these also help address the growing food crisis. With Ukraine and Russia as breadbaskets to the world, the disruption in food production and supply chains is escalating global hunger to catastrophic levels. By the end of 2022, the World Food Program (WFP) estimates the number of people with acute food insecurity could reach to 323 million people, up from 276 million before the war. Finding new sources of grain production is more important than ever.
And it’s not just other people in other countries that are impacted by this hunger crisis; it affects us in America, in Minnesota. What happens globally impacts us locally. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 38 million people in the United States are food insecure, and unfortunately that number is expected to rise.
Through global diplomatic efforts, grain shipments have begun leaving Ukraine to be distributed on the world market, but much more needs to be done to address the growing crisis. Training farmers on a global scale like companies in Minnesota are doing not only supports our economy but helps save lives and build a better, safer world for all of us.
Ultimately, our nation’s leadership in diplomacy and development globally is felt locally, with Minnesota benefiting from these investments. That’s why we urge the entire Minnesota congressional delegation to support a fully funded International Affairs Budget to advance America’s interests and demonstrate our values on the global stage. It’s worth the health, security, and economic interests of Minnesotans.
Jonathan Weinhagen is the CEO of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and Lori Higgins is the president of the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce. Both are members of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Minnesota Advisory Committee.