Forward with Feed the Future

Photo credit: Palm Beach Post

Four more years, that’s what we got last night. Four more years to solidify American leadership in ending hunger through agricultural development. Four more years to make President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative a permanent part of American policy no matter the political makeup in Congress and the White House. That was the President’s promise to the world’s poorest when he spoke at the Chicago Council’s Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in May.

“We can unleash the change that reduces hunger and malnutrition,” President Obama proclaimed then. “We can spark the kind of economic growth that lifts people and nations out of poverty. This is the new commitment that we’re making, and I pledge to you today that this will remain a priority as long as I am the United States president.”

He continued: “We’ll stay focused on clear goals: boosting farmers’ incomes and over the next decade helping 50 million men, women and children lift themselves out of poverty.”

We must hold him to it.

It will take great resolve and plenty of clamor-raising. For forward also lies the fiscal cliff. Budget cuts to corral the rampaging deficit will be necessary. And that will mean increasing pressure to whack away at foreign aid and investments in development. The White House will need to rouse a strong defense to protect Feed the Future.

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The best way to do this is to make global food security a shared goal, embraced by both Democrat and Republican, to remove it from the partisan realm, to project it not as an Obama initiative but as an American initiative. Because agricultural development is what America does, and does best. Eliminating hunger was at the heart of two of America’s greatest diplomatic and development achievements: the Marshall Plan, which secured the peace after World War II by aiding the European recovery, and the Green Revolution, which conquered famine in many parts of the developing world.

Last night in his victory speech, President Obama spoke about a generous and compassionate America. Feed the Future is the face of this America to hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.

So forward with feeding the future. Forward with securing the global food supply to meet the demands of a growing population. Forward with creating the conditions for all the world’s farmers to be as productive as possible. Forward with vastly improving the planet’s nutrition. Forward with ending child stunting. Forward with banishing the shameful oxymoron “hungry farmers.”