The senior director of international development for a manufacturing company based in Pella is in Washington, D.C. this week, urging members of congress to fully fund the U.S. international affairs budget.

Daryl Bouwkamp has worked at Vermeer for 30 years. He says having diplomatic and humanitarian missions around the globe benefits trade. “Having a U.S. projected, rules-based, stable global environment, which the U.S. really needs to lead, is incredibly important to us as a state,” he says.

Bouwkamp is participating in a forum sponsored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The group estimates nearly 20% of the jobs in Iowa are tied to international trade. China has stepped up its spending to secure trading partnerships with countries around the globe. Bouwkamp says the U.S. needs to maintain its spending on international aid to ensure companies like Vermeer can access global mark

“Being there as the U.S. in times of need for other countires and being at the table, negotiating and helping write the rules, enforce the rules so that we have stability and reduce corruption,” Bouwkamp says.

About 1% of the federal budget is spent on international affairs. Bouwkamp’s message to Iowa’s congressional delegation is that American diplomacy must be maintained.  “It is the best money spent,” Bouwkamp says. “If you don’t spend it here, you’re just going to have to purchase more bullets.”

This is the seventh Global Impact Forum Bouwkamp has attended — although the last two were held virtually due to the pandemic. He says faith leaders and non-profit groups are represented at the event as well as 500 businesses and hundreds of both current and retired members of the military and U.S. diplomatic corps.