Global Food Security Act Key to Long-Term US Global Ag Strategy

July 6, 2016

Institutionalization of programs championed by the Council on Global Affairs is a win for U.S. leadership

Today’s passage of the Global Food Security Act, which enshrines U.S. efforts on global food security into law, is a major victory for worldwide efforts to advance global nutrition and alleviate poverty through agricultural development.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has long convened task forces, produced research and published reports recommending that the United States commit itself to this kind of long-term global food security strategy as a crucial component of U.S. foreign policy. The Council’s 2009 report on food security offered a framework for U.S. leadership that ultimately helped inform the development of initiatives such as Feed the Future.

“In his first inaugural address, President Obama committed to helping farmers around the world as the centerpiece of a global effort to fight hunger,” said Raj Shah, former USAID Administrator and now a senior advisor to the Council. “That effort, known as Feed the Future, has leveraged significant private investment and delivered clear, measurable results. Today tens of millions of people around the world are no longer hungry and the children in these families now go to school instead of working in the fields. I have reviewed the data and met these kids. In passing the Global Food Security Act, the U.S. Congress has ensured America will continue to lead the global effort to end extreme poverty in the decades to come.”

The act requires the creation of a comprehensive global food security strategy coordinated by the president and executed by 11 agencies in a whole-of-government approach and authorizes funding for two years.

“The fact that the Senate passed the legislation without opposition and that the House legislation was cosponsored by nearly one in three Members, ultimately passing by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, shows that Congress understands the economic and national security importance of prioritizing global food security,” noted Doug Bereuter, co-chair of the Council’s Global Food and Agriculture Program, president emeritus of the Asia Foundation and former U.S. Representative from Nebraska.

“Multi-year agriculture development projects can help graduate countries and farmers from food aid and help countries become self-reliant rather than continually dependent on short-term solutions,” added former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, who serves as the Council’s other program co-chair. “Congress should further elevate U.S. leadership in this area by making the authorization more permanent, and the Council will continue working with policymakers and legislators to identify and offer innovative solutions to food security challenges in a rapidly changing global environment.”

Beginning with its 2009 report, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has convened business, policy, scientific and civil society leaders for task forces examining U.S. farm policy; the nexus between nutrition, health and the food system; the impact of climate change on food production; and the role of research and technology. The resulting task force reports have recommended how the public, private and NGO sectors can work together to implement innovative solutions to global food security challenges.

On April 26 the Council released its latest report – “Growing Food for Growing Cities,” which details how the United States can lead efforts to help transform food systems in the face of mass urbanization and how supply chains can link rural farmers with urban consumers.

Such efforts may require further actions by Congress, notes Council Distinguished Fellow Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the UN World Food Program. But the action today is a big step in the right direction.

“The passage of this act shows that Congress agrees the United States needs a foreign policy strategy to address the challenges of global food security,” Bertini said. “I hope and expect that this action will reaffirm to our global partners that the American people are fully engaged and committed to solving this problem with smart solutions.”

Follow the Council’s global food and agriculture work here.