Farming in Kevlar all in a day’s work for Virginia Tech alum
by Amy Loeffler
Most farmers don’t have to worry about being mistaken for the Taliban when they go out to harvest their crops, and Mark Mitchell wants to keep it that way.
Mitchell, an ’87 animal and poultry sciences alumnus, is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Middle East, which means his job is to think about anything and everything that has do to with the agricultural supply chain — from the farmer to the consumer.
And in the Middle East, security matters are inherently part of supply chain issues.
For example, he advises U.S. military forces that it’s most likely they will find farmers — not the Taliban — harvesting their grape crops in the early morning hours.
Mitchell currently works in Afghanistan through his company Ageo Limited, but his career in agricultural consulting began in the Peace Corps and has taken him to other areas around the globe.
“Every farmer I’ve ever met in the 25-plus countries I’ve worked in has the same problems,” said Mitchell. “It only takes two minutes to develop a rapport to let them know you understand what farming is and you understand what they are saying.”