It’s been five years since the launch of the US Government’s Feed the Future initiative. In 2010, the world stood at a precipice – food prices had hit a 30 year high in 2008 and were rising again.
The poorest and most vulnerable were being driven deeper into poverty and hunger, and governments throughout the world began to realize that they had let agricultural development lie fallow for too long. Feed the Future was created to ensure that agriculture, food security and nutrition once again had a seat at the table in the US development agenda.
Since that point, the US has helped nearly seven million farmers become more productive, and reached 12.5 million children with nutrition interventions, all while making substantial improvements in the way U.S. development assistance is delivered.
That is real progress, but our work is not even close to done. As Oxfam America’s new report shows, progress is agriculture and food security doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we need to keep the agenda ambitious. 805 million people around the globe are still suffering from hunger.
3.1 million children die each year from malnutrition. Farmers in Africa, especially women, still produce less than their counterparts in Asia and Latin America. Even though we know that growth in agriculture is 11 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, overall development assistance to agriculture has been decreasing since 2010.
There are still millions who can benefit from the highly successful US-supported programs, and the 114th Congress has the opportunity to make that happen. That is why the introduction of the Global Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 1567) by Representatives Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), David G. Reichert (R-WA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and James P. McGovern (D-MA) is critical to ensure that farmers around the globe have access to the productive resources they need to prosper, and that families have the food they need to be healthy.
This bipartisan legislation helps to ensure that our complex efforts are not fragmented, but mobilize all of government to work together for this common purpose. This ‘whole-of-government’ strategy is common sense. The Act requires the development of a comprehensive global food security strategy, builds the capacities of countries to become self-sufficient through investing in national agriculture investment strategies, leverages partnerships with NGOS the private sector and educational institutions, while prioritizing the needs of smallholders and women.
There are some welcome changes to the language of this bill, including an increased emphasis on nutrition, resilience, and sustainability which will help ensure that U.S. leadership on global food security focuses on ending the intergenerational effects of poverty so families can permanently escape hunger.
Through this bipartisan legislation, Congress can build on Feed the Future’s early promise and create lasting outcomes for millions of farmers and families in need.
ONE thanks the members of Congress listed above for their bold leadership on global food security. This is a great first step, now let’s support Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) as they draft the Senate version, and hope that we can look back at the 114th as the Congress that took real action to end hunger, malnutrition and help food producers throughout the developing world.