The War in Ukraine and Global Food Security




On Thursday, April 7, WITA held a webinar discussing the war in Ukraine and its impact on global food security. 

Featured Speakers:

Beth Bechdol, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Joseph W. Glauber, Senior Research Fellow, Markets, Trade and Institutions Division, International Food Policy Research Institute

Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Caitlin Welsh, Director, Global Food Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies


Beth Bechdol is Deputy Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In this role, she continues her service to food and agriculture – now on a global scale. Ms Bechdol is responsible for FAO’s Partnership and Outreach work, including Partnerships and UN Collaboration, Resource Mobilization and Private Sector Partnerships, South-South and Triangular Cooperation. She also leads programmes in the area of Plant Production and Protection and oversees FAO’s main technical advisory committee on agriculture, the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) as well as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat. 

Before joining FAO, Ms Bechdol was President and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, the Midwestern state’s economic development initiative focused on advancing the agbioscience sector and developing 21st century talent. Prior to her leadership of AgriNovus, Ms Bechdol was Director of agribusiness strategies at Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller LLP where she helped build the firm’s dedicated legal practice to food and agribusiness clients. She also was the former Deputy Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. 

Ms Bechdol’s dedication to public service in agriculture and her extensive trade and farm policy experience started in Washington, D.C. where she served in key roles as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as Economist on the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

She began her career in the Washington office of Informa Economics. As the first female Vice President in the firm, she assisted clients in understanding critical food and agriculture issues such as global trade negotiations, federal farm policy, technology advancements, farm structure, risk management tools, among other major trends. She also provided market information expertise to several international development projects in Egypt, the Republic of North Macedonia and Ukraine. 

Ms Bechdol excels at building unconventional alliances and connecting people. She has had significant roles on boards and commissions, including the National FFA Board of Trustees, the Purdue Research Foundation and the Farm Foundation Round Table. 

Ms Bechdol was raised on a multi-generation family grain farm in rural Indiana. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international law and international affairs, and completed her master’s degree at Purdue University in agricultural economics.

Joseph W. Glauber is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC where his areas of interest are price volatility, global grain reserves, crop insurance and trade. Prior to joining IFPRI, Glauber spent over 30 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture including as Chief Economist from 2008 to 2014. As Chief Economist, he was responsible for the Department’s agricultural forecasts and projections, oversaw climate, energy and regulatory issues, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

From 2007-2009, Glauber was the Special Doha Agricultural Envoy at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative where he served as chief agricultural negotiator in the Doha talks. He served as economic adviser at the so-called Blair House agreements leading to the completion of the Uruguay Round negotiations. He is the author of numerous studies on crop insurance, disaster policy and U.S. farm policy.

Dr. Glauber received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 and holds an AB in anthropology from the University of Chicago. In 2012, he was elected Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Jason Hafemeister is the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign AgriculturalAffairs and the Trade Counsel to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this role, he advises the Secretary and the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs on agricultural trade policy. He has been involved in agricultural farm and trade policy for over 30 years, including almost 25 at USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Jason grew up on California’s scenic central coast. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is married with two children. Before that, he used to enjoy reading and sport.

Caitlin Welsh is the director of the Global Food Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she provides insights and policy solutions to global and U.S. food security challenges. She brings over a decade of U.S. government experience to this role. She served most recently in the National Security Council and National Economic Council as director of global economic engagement, where she coordinated U.S. policy in the G7 and G20. Prior to the White House, Ms. Welsh spent over seven years in the Department of State’s Office of Global Food Security, including as acting director, offering guidance to the secretary of state on global food security and its relationship to climate change, urbanization, and conflict. Ms. Welsh served as a presidential management fellow at the U.S. African Development Foundation and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. She has testified before Congress on food security and climate change, and her analysis has been featured in The Economist, Foreign Policy, BBC, and other outlets. Ms. Welsh received her BA from the University of Virginia and MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.