Farmers Union leader appointed Special Ambassador of International Year of Family Farming

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Farm Forum

ROME, Italy – Robert L. Carlson, former president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), has been appointed United Nations (UN) Special Ambassador of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). His appointment was made by José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome earlier today.

“I am truly honored to accept this position,” said Carlson. “I will do my best to represent family farmers and ranchers throughout the world. I think it’s very important for people to recognize the significant contributions that agriculture makes on our global economy.”

Carlson accepted the appointment during a special video conference. Participants in the ceremony included José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General; H.E. Peter McGovern, Ambassador of Canada to Italy; David J. Lane, US Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome; Marcela Villarreal, Director, Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development (OPC), FAO; and Francesco Pierri, Family Farming Officer, Advocacy Unit of OPC, FAO.

Carlson brings a wealth of farming knowledge and diplomatic experience to the post. He served as the first president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) from September 2011 to March 2014. He currently serves as vice president of international relations for National Farmers Union (NFU) in the United States.

NFU President Roger Johnson commented, “We are so pleased that Robert has been appointed to this position. He has been a long-time advocate for family farmers and ranchers, and will be a great champion for the agricultural industry. We look forward to his involvement with the U.S. national committee on IYFF, for which NFU is the chair organization.”

Carlson’s international diplomatic experience is extensive. He has represented family farming issues at world food summits as well as international agricultural conferences on climate change and food security. He has participated in United Nations high-level meetings, World Trade Organization talks and the World Economic Forum. Carlson is committed to the future of family farming as an economic and social base for rural society, the nation, and the world.

As a native of North Dakota, Carlson served as president of North Dakota Farmers Union from 1997 to 2012, and as the organization’s vice president from 1987 to 1997. Much of his life has been devoted to family farming issues – as a farmer and as an advocate for family farmers. Carlson worked with his father growing up on their North Dakota farm, homesteaded by his grandfather in 1900. He raised his own sons farming that same land, now owned and operated by two generations who grow grain and raise cattle. As active members of Farmers Union, the Carlsons consider farming to be the greatest occupation in the world and support many state cooperatives.