Agriculture Secretary Recognizes Michael Clayton for Service in Afghanistan

62 honored at USDA headquarters for their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently recognized the efforts of 62 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees who have helped revitalize the agricultural sectors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among those honored during a ceremony June 4 was Michael Clayton of Providence, Ky., who served as an agricultural advisor in Ghazni, Afghanistan, from 2010 to 2011.

“I’m honored to recognize these brave and devoted men and women for their tremendous service to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Vilsack. “These USDA employees have played a vital role in furthering political and social stability throughout the world by building a foundation on which the economies of these countries will prosper.”

USDA agricultural advisors began serving in Afghanistan in 2003 and Iraq in 2006. Their goal has been to help Afghanistan and Iraq rebuild their agricultural sectors by planning and implementing reconstruction and agricultural development projects. Activities vary depending on the needs of the area, but can range from mentoring local agricultural officials to improving food and animal production and marketing systems to veterinary infrastructure, soil and water conservation, and reclamation programs. Advisors working at the national government level help build the capacity of government ministries and collaborate with ministry staff to develop long-term strategies for agricultural development.

In Afghanistan, Clayton was an embedded agricultural advisor with the Texas National Guard and a multi-branched U.S. military and civilian provincial reconstruction team. He worked with the Province’s Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to develop an internship program for civil servants, established a poultry demonstration farm with the Texas National Guard and worked with cooperatives to create market opportunities and cool storage systems for fruit. 

This was Clayton’s second tour as an agricultural advisor, having served in Iraq from 2008 to 2010. He is a district conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Princeton, Ky., and is certified as a conservation planner, wetland delineator, crop advisor and watershed assessment and restoration planner. Clayton received his Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy from Iowa State University in Ames. 

Since 2003, more than 250 USDA personnel have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 50 agricultural advisors are currently assigned there.

To learn more about USDA’s efforts in those countries, visit www.fas.usda.gov.

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