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ONE delivered its petition with nearly 14,000 European ONE members' signatures to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's advisor in Brussels and directly to Alain Joyandet, the French Development Minister in Strasbourg just days before the final budget decisions were taken. ONE members throughout Europe then directly e-mailed their finance ministers, sending over 6,000 emails in a few short weeks.
Ultimately, the European Commission, European Parliament, and European Council agreed to give a full €1 billion for agriculture, of which €760 million is new funding at the EU level. While we would have liked to see the full €1 billion come from money that wasn't previously dedicated to aid, securing €760 million of new funding was a major victory.
Before the onset of the financial crisis in late 2008, the dual food and fuel crises devastating the developing world had dominated the news. When fuel prices and other costs of production started to soar, the price of food, especially staple grains, went up around the world as well, in some cases up to 80% higher than in previous years. As a result, many farmers in the developing world found they couldn't afford the fuel, fertilizer, and seed needed to grow crops, nor could they afford enough food to feed their families.
The aim is for this new assistance to be quickly delivered over the next couple of years, helping mitigate the impact of these crises and making a massive difference in the lives of millions of farmers and their families working their way out of poverty and hunger. But we will need to keep the pressure up to ensure this happens.
Although the Food Facility was intended to be programmed over 3 years (2008-2010) by the end of 2009 over €800m will have been disbursed. This shows the huge need for agricultural investment, and highlights the work we have to keep on doing to keep filling the funding gaps that exist and ensuring the money is spent in the most effective way.