Every day, as we consume more and more information about the world around us, it seems that the world is getting smaller and smaller, and the world’s problems are starting to approach us. In Minnesota, we can feel the effects of closing the world when war in Europe means empty shelves in our grocery stores and sky-high prices at our gas stations. In the face of such turmoil on the world stage, it is vital that America redouble its efforts to lead globally through diplomacy and development. These global partnerships will help all Americans, including Minnesotans like us. We know Minnesota has a bright future with America leading the way on the world stage.
Minnesota is already leading the way in investing in diplomatic relations by encouraging public-private partnerships in emerging markets and agricultural production. Minnesota-based Cargill has long-standing partnerships with partners in Vietnam. In 2015, Cargill’s Vietnam partnership was awarded the US Secretary of State’s Corporate Excellence Award. In 2020, the company trained more than 860,000 farmers in Vietnam on sustainable production methods, using technology to share price information with farmers, 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, and our investments in the developing world are bringing prosperity back to the Minnesotans.
As members of the MetroNorth and Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, we know how important trading is to Minnesota businesses and Minnesota families. Trading with global partners, both new and old, is bringing prosperity back to the people of Minnesota. In fact, last year our state exported more than $7 billion worth of agricultural products to countries like Canada, Mexico, and China, and international trade generated almost 750,000 jobs in Minnesota. Today, half of US exports go to developing countries, and Minnesota is at the forefront of finding new partners and markets in fast-growing emerging economies like Vietnam.
Such partnerships are also helping to cope with the growing food crisis. As Ukraine and Russia are the breadbaskets of the world, disruptions in food production and supply chains are escalating global hunger to catastrophic levels. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that by the end of 2022, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity could reach 323 million compared to 276 million before the war. The search for new sources of grain production is more important than ever.
And this hunger crisis has not only affected other people in other countries; it affects us in America, in Minnesota. What happens globally affects us locally. More than 38 million people in the United States suffer from food insecurity, according to the USDA, and sadly, this number is expected to rise.
Thanks to global diplomatic efforts, shipments of grain have begun to leave Ukraine for distribution to the global market, but much more needs to be done to overcome the growing crisis. Educating farmers on a global scale, as companies in Minnesota do, not only supports our economy, but helps save lives and build a better and safer world for all of us.
Ultimately, our country’s leadership in diplomacy and global development is felt locally, and Minnesota is benefiting from this investment. That’s why we call on the entire Minnesota congressional delegation to support a fully funded foreign affairs budget to advance America’s interests and demonstrate our values on the world stage. This costs the health, safety, and economic interests of the people of Minnesota.
Jonathan Weinhagen is CEO of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and Laurie Higgins is President of the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce. Both are members of the US Global Leadership Coalition. Minnesota Advisory Committee.