October 29, 2011 | By Roger Thurow

The Right Vote

We’ll keep this short:

“Vote for the Appropriations Committee recommendation for foreign operations and against any cuts that would hurt hungry and poor people.”

That was the succinct message of a slide posted by Bread for the World President David Beckmann yesterday at the Alliance to End Hunger annual gathering. It was all that needed to be said in advance of next week’s scheduled vote in the Senate on the State Department’s foreign operations funding levels for fiscal year 2012 – if indeed it comes to the Senate floor.  The Senate committee flat-lined the budget from fiscal year 2011 numbers, which is considered to be something of a triumph in these times of voracious cuts.  Adopting those recommendations would set a high water mark; no one figures it will get any better.

But it could get worse.  The House committee has made deep cuts to foreign operations.  Development assistance, which includes agriculture development programs like the presidential initiative Feed the Future, would be cut another 18% from FY2011 levels; U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operating expenses would be cut 27%, which would likely mean less people to implement Feed the Future on the ground in developing countries; and, overall food aid, from the agriculture appropriations bill, would be down 28%.

The international affairs account represents only about 1.4% of the U.S. federal budget, based on FY2010 numbers.  As Bread points out, programs that constitute poverty-focused development assistance was only six-tenths of one percent of the federal budget.

Despite these small percentages, the international affairs account has already been the target of disproportionate cuts.  It absorbed nearly 20% of the total discretionary cuts in the FY11 budget.

Any move by the Senate to come down from its committee recommendations would be crippling for agriculture development around the world.  It would be a severe blow to Feed the Future.  All this, while famine is spreading in the Horn of Africa and while agriculture development is being prioritized in many developing countries based on promises of cooperation in the Feed the Future initiative.

Budget cuts would sound retreat on the emerging movement to finally reverse the neglect of agriculture development that has increased hunger and poverty over the past three decades.

“If the U.S. backs off, it will have a really debilitating impact on what other governments are doing,” Rev. Beckmann said.

The message, in short: don’t cut the poor and hungry any deeper than has already been done.


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1,000 Days and Migrant Stress

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time for development, where nutrition--and stability--lay the foundation for a lifetime. 

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Outrage and Inspire with Roger Thurow - Am I About to Lose My Second Child, Too?

The latest podcast in our ongoing series with Roger Thurow. Hear how even the best nutrition projects can be undermined by bad water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lousy infrastructure.  From northern Uganda, we hear a mother’s agony when her healthy, robust child suddenly falls ill after a few sips of water…unclean water, it turned out.

Roger Thurow on SDG 2.2

Roger Thurow sat down with Farming First to talk about the individual and societal consequences of malnutrition. 




Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

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» Order your copy of the book.


The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

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The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

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