GLOBAL: International Food Aid Necessary in New Farm Bill, Says Alliance for Global Food Security
(MissionNewswire) The Alliance for Global Food Security, in which Salesian Missions is a member, is urging Congress to reauthorize international food assistance programs when it writes a new U.S. Farm Bill this year. (The last Farm Bill was written in 2008.)
“International food assistance is a small but critical component of the U.S. Farm Bill, providing assistance to 50 million people a year and reducing the burden of destabilizing food shortages on poor and vulnerable populations,” explained Ellen Levinson, executive director of the Alliance for Global Food Security.
According to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 925 million people have too little to eat and 12,000,000 metric tons of food would be required to close the food gap in the 70 most food insecure countries around the globe. U.S. food assistance can be effectively used to address those food gaps, to build capacity and self-reliance of poor populations, and to reduce recurring hunger in areas that are vulnerable to droughts and other crises.
Food programs improve agricultural productivity, incomes, living conditions and nutrition of the very poor as well as reduce the need for emergency aid. Programs offered under the U.S. Farm Bill offer flexibility because there is no one solution for tackling global hunger and different situations require different approaches. A variety of commodity choices and options for distribution and/or monetization allow programs to be adapted to local contexts.
Levinson praised the progress of the bill stating, “Great strides have been made in the past five years allowing U.S. food aid programs to better adapt to the situation at hand and have more substantial results.”
For example, during emergencies the pre-positioning of food in warehouses overseas has reduced delivery times for U.S. commodities, which can be as short as two weeks. When necessary, food products can also be purchased closer to the region in crisis.
In addition, a wider variety of food aid products are now available, including fortified cereals and nut butters that are more appropriate for malnourished, young children. More support has been given to developmental food aid programs that boost impacts by improving the health of mothers and children and increasing agricultural productivity and incomes. Most important, by building the capacity and self-reliance of very poor communities, developmental food aid programs reduce the need for emergency aid and help people escape the hunger cycle.
But emerging economies and growing populations are placing greater demand on food supplies. By 2050, world population is expected to reach 9 billion and food production will have to increase by 50 to 70 percent to keep pace. Decreasing the amount of funding available for developmental food aid would greatly impede efforts to improve childhood nutrition, improve agriculture and incomes, and decrease reliance on emergency assistance. It would jeopardize gains made in improving food security and stabilizing communities and, in the end, would be more costly for the American taxpayer.
SALESIAN MISSIONS ON THE ISSUE OF INTERNATIONAL FOOD AID:
For each county that receives assistance, such as Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, there is a story to be told and millions of people are being lifted from the grips of poverty and hunger. Decreased childhood hunger, improved household incomes, increased agricultural productivity, and overall improved community resilience are testaments to the success of these programs under the U.S. Farm Bill and why Salesian Missions joins the other members of the Alliance for Global Food Security in urging congress to continue funding for international food aid. Salesian Missions, headquartered in New Rochelle, N.Y., is the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. For more information, go to SalesianMissions.org.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY:
The members of the Alliance for Global Food Security are private voluntary organizations and cooperatives that are committed to addressing hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. They operate in over 100 developing countries, implementing emergency and development programs that directly engage, support and build the capacity of local communities, enterprises and institutions. Members include ACDI/VOCA, Adventist Development & Relief Agency International, Congressional Hunger Center, Counterpart International, Food for the Hungry, International Relief & Development, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Land O’Lakes, OIC International, Planet Aid, PCI, Salesian Missions and World Vision.
To learn more about U.S. food aid programs, please see FoodAid.org.