From Jacksboro FFA to agricultural attache
A Jacksboro native will soon be heading for a post representing the American agricultural industry in the land of the rising sun.
Barrett Bumpus was recently sworn in as one of the newest agricultural officers for the Foreign Service. For the next three years, he will serve as an agricultural attaché in Japan.
The 2003 Jacksboro High School graduate along with his wife, Betty, and 11-month-old daughter, Layla, will be relocating from Washington, D.C. to Tokyo at the end of the month.
Bumpus graduated from Texas Tech with a history degree before joining the Peace Corps from 2009-2011 as a sustainable agriculture volunteer in Guatemala. But his agriculture roots began with his time in Jacksboro.
“I really started getting heavily involved in agriculture when I participated in the FFA program,” Bumpus said. “Brad Burnett was one of my FFA advisors so I was participating in all sorts of contests and judging events and team events. I was also an officer in our local chapter and a district vice president. I was super involved in that program through our school.”
While at Tech, he worked for the USDA as a student laboratory aide at an agricultural research office mainly focusing on cotton.
Following his time in the Peace Corps, he joined the Foreign Agricultural Service in 2012.
“Our agency is the trade-focused arm of the department of agriculture,” Bumpus said. “The idea is that we increase the prosperity of the American farmer by increasing trade exports.”
He said last year, there were $138 billion in US agricultural exports world wide. Of that, nearly $12 billion went to Japan which is the US’s fourth largest agricultural export market.
“It’s a large beef market,” he said. “But they buy products across the board — bulk commodities including grains and soybeans to more consumer oriented products from snack foods to other processed products.”
Bumpus received his assignment two years ago. Since then, he has been in near constant training including learning the Japanese language though there will be local bilingual staff to assist with any language barrier.
He will be working to connect US agricultural industry representatives and cooperator groups to Japanese retailers, wholesalers and buyers.
Concerning President Donald Trump’s tariff plan, Bumpus said he plans to work so the farmers at home are successful.
“It’s a challenging environment for agricultural trade. Personally, I’m looking forward to working with US farmers to overcome those challenges,” he said.
“Agricultural exports are really important for the US farm industry; about one-third of US farm income comes from exports.
“It’s a little different for different markets, like in Jack County, only 10 percent of beef is exported but with other commodities, soybeans for example about half of what we produce is exported. It presents different challenges for different parts of the country. The service we provide to the American farmers is trying to make sure we can increase their prosperity through exports and make sure they still have that income.”