José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on Tuesday appointed Robert L. Carlson, former president of the World Farmers' Organization, as United Nations Special Ambassador of the International Year of Family Farming.
Carlson, a North Dakota farmer and first president of the WFO, currently serves as vice president of international relations for the U.S.-based National Farmers Union.
As a native of North Dakota, Carlson also served as president of North Dakota Farmers Union from 1997 to 2011, and as the organization's Vice-President from 1987 to 1997.
"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 has previously represented family farming issues at world food summits as well as international agricultural conferences on climate change and food security. He also has participated in United Nations high-level meetings, World Trade Organization talks and the World Economic Forum.
Following his appointment to ambassador Tuesday, NFU President Roger Johnson commented, "[Carlson] has been a long-time advocate for family farmers and ranchers, and will be a great champion for the agricultural industry."
Carlson first 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.