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Statement by U.S. Representative to the UN on Agricultural Development and Food Security

In a statement to the United Nations (UN) on Agricultural Development and Food Security, David Carbajal, United States Advisor on the Economic and Social Council stated that “the United States has put food security at the forefront of its international agenda.” Carbajal outlined five priorities for achieving international food security:
1) Increase support for country-led and regional strategies;

2) Ensure mutual accountability;

3) L’Aquila participants need to remain committed to providing $20 billion in support, while continuing to provide emergency food assistance;

4) Create improved systems for soil and water management as well as waste minimization; and

5) The need for a reformed Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

H.R. 2997 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law No: 111-080)

The 2010 agriculture appropriations bill approved on September 30, 2009 by the House-Senate Conference Committee includes $1.69 billion for international food aid through the P.L. 480 Title II Grants Program and an additional $209.5 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. Additionally, the bill provides funds “for research to develop new food aid products to provide higher nutritional content to food aid recipients . . . [and provides guidance] . . . to the Secretary to improve audit systems for maintaining the quality of food aid commodities and to generally improve the efficiencies of administering food aid programs.”

Relevant Amendments:

- The Senate passed by a voice vote an amendment (S.AMDT.2253) introduced by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and co-sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) “to require a report on the status of the reorganization of the Foreign Agricultural Service and future plans to modify office structures.” (August 3, 2009)

- The Senate passed by a voice vote an amendment (S.AMDT.2229) introduced by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and co-sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) “to establish within the Food and Drug Administration two review groups to recommend solutions for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of rare diseases and neglected diseases of the developing world.” (August 3, 2009)

Timeline of the bill:

- The House Committee on Appropriations approved by voice vote a draft version of the 2010 agriculture appropriations bill on June 18, 2009.

- Introduced, referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, reported on by the committee, and placed on the Union Calendar on June 23, 2009.

- The bill was passed by the House (266-160) on July 9, 2009.

- The bill was received in the Senate and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders (Calendar No. 105) on July 10, 2009.

- The bill was passed with amendments by the Senate (80-17) and referred to a House-Senate Conference Committee on August 4, 2009.

- The House disagreed with the version of the bill as amended by the Senate and agreed to refer the bill to a House-Senate Conference Committee on September 29, 2009.

- The House-Senate Conference Committee met, approved the bill (with changes), and submitted a conference report on September 30, 2009.

- The House approved (263-162) the House-Senate Conference Committee Report on October 7, 2009.

- The Senate approved (76-22) the House-Senate Conference Committee Report on October 8, 2009.

- The President signed the bill into law (Public Law No: 111-080) on October 21, 2009.

Secretaries Clinton and Vilsack discuss food security on World Food Day

In commemoration of World Food Day, Secretary of State Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack held a conference call to discuss and answer questions on the Administrations recently announced “Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.” Secretary Clinton provided an overview of the initiative while Secretary Vilsack discussed the role that the USDA would fill. Additionally, the Secretaries responded to questions on the role of biotechnology, the monetization of food aid, and the ability of the Administration to fulfill the goals of the food security initiative.

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on World Food Day

In observance of World Food Day, Secretary Clinton stated that “fighting hunger and poverty through sustainable agricultural development . . . is a key foreign policy objective of the Obama Administration” and that the Administration is “committed to working with our partners across sectors on this issue for the long haul.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launches National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and described the institute as “the Department’s extramural research enterprise.” Secretary Vilsack stated that one of the goals for NIFA is to “support our ability to keep American agriculture competitive while ending world hunger.”

GAO Report – International Food Assistance: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight

In an effort to inform the discussion on the Administration’s plans to develop a “new global approach to hunger,” GAO summarized and evaluated previous food assistance reports with the objectives of “(1) updat[ing] U.S. agencies’ responses to GAO’s previous international food assistance recommendations and (2) identif[ing] potential oversight questions for Congressional consideration.” As a result of this evalution, the GAO “identified five issues for Congressional consideration to ensure more efficient and effective international food assistance: (1) coordination and integration, (2) needs assessments and market information, (3) transportation and logistics, (4) nutrition and food quality control, and (5) monitoring and evaluation.”

PEPFAR, USAID, and General Mills announce partnership to improve food processing in Africa

During the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, PEPFAR and USAID announced a partnership with General Mills to “improve the capacity of small and medium-sized food businesses across sub-Saharan Africa to produce healthy, fortified food products.”

In a press release about the partnership, Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, stated that “if PEPFAR HIV/AIDS programs and broader health and development efforts are going to be sustainable, they must be owned and led by partner countries . . . This partnership with General Mills and USAID will support local food companies to help meet the nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, while bringing health benefits to the larger population through improved nutrition and broader economic development.”

State Department official discusses the Administration’s food security initiative

After Secretary Clinton’s announcement of the Administration’s food security initiative, Cheryl Mills, Secretary Clinton’s Chief of Staff and Counselor, held a briefing to provide details and answer questions on the program. Aspects of the initiative including agricultural productivity, nutrition, U.S. government coordination, recipient country involvement, and funding were covered.

Secretary Clinton discusses the Administration’s global food security initiative at Clinton Global Initiative

During a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative, Secretary of State Clinton summarized the Obama Administration’s food security initiative stating it would be guided by five principles:

- “First, we will work with partner countries to create and implement their plans.”

- “Second, we are addressing the underlying causes of hunger.”

- “Thirdly, we will improve coordination at the country, regional, and global level.”

- “Our fourth principle is leveraging the benefits of multilateral institutions.”

- “Fifth, we pledge a long-term commitment and accountability to our efforts.”