October 15, 2019 | By Peter McPherson

Featured Commentary - How Foreign Aid Boosts the Economy Back Home

Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the U.S. agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.

Ask many Americans what we get in return for our foreign aid investment and they’ll likely point to outcomes like increased social and economic development in low-income countries. These results have been well-demonstrated. But the impact of foreign aid reverberates far beyond the developing world. The big impact this support has right here at home is too often overlooked. 

Consider the case of agriculture aid. When the United States invests in building agriculture production capacity abroad, the impact is seen through healthier, more productive, and more stable societies. But a recent report commissioned by the presidentially appointed Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows these results capture just part of the impact. Such foreign aid also sows the seeds of innovation, job creation, and economic growth in the United States.

A significant portion of U.S. aid to low-income countries is aimed at building agricultural capacity. This is because a vibrant agriculture sector is foundational to a successful society, nourishing the populace and fueling economic development.A major component of foreign aid is used to engage U.S. universities and CGIAR, a global partnership conducting research on food and nutrition security, in work to improve agricultural productivity. In most of the developing world, the agricultural sector employs a large share of the population. That means increasing productivity can create broadly shared prosperity and free more workers to focus on advancing other sectors of the economy. In other words, increasing capacity in agriculture often produces dividends outside it. 

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The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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