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Senate Appropriations Committee approves Agriculture Appropriations Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2011 Agriculture appropriations bill by a vote of 17-12. The approved bill includes $1.69 billion for international food aid through the P.L. 480 Title II Grants Program (equal to the House appropriations bill, the President’s FY11 request, and the FY10 enacted level) and an additional $209.5 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program ($57 million below the House; equal to the President’s FY11 request and the FY10 enacted level).

Secretary Clinton, Administrator Shah, and Secretary Vilsack announce the World Food Prize and discuss USG efforts to address food security

At the 2010 World Food Prize Ceremony, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discussed the U.S. Government’s efforts to improve global agriculture through commitments made at the 2009 G-20 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy and to promote “nutrient-rich crops so people get the nourishment that they need to thrive, especially mothers and children” (Secretary Clinton) through the Feed the Future Initiative. Secretary Clinton also announced the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, “a new research initiative that combines the knowledge, resources, and commitment of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)” and will focus on translating agricultural technology and innovation into real-world solutions. Finally, Administrator Shah outlined three ways the USG is working to combat global hunger by focusing on “core productivity,” prioritizing “production systems in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa,” and by using a “milestones-and-outcome-based funding approach.”

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack discusses Global Food Security

During remarks at the Partners in Agriculture Global Food Security Symposium, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed the importance of investing in long-term efforts to improve food security, the G8 agriculture ministers meeting, and stated that “food security efforts must be country-led and country-driven and focused at the local and community level.”

GAO Report – Global Food Security: U.S. Agencies Progressing on Governmentwide Strategy, but Approach Faces Several Vulnerabilities

For this report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “examined (1) the types and funding of food security programs and activities of relevant U.S. government agencies; and (2) progress in developing an integrated U.S. governmentwide strategy to address global food insecurity as well as potential vulnerabilities of that strategy.”

Based on its analysis, the GAO provided two recommendations to the Secretary of State to improve U.S. global food security efforts: “(1) develop an operational definition of food security that is accepted by all U.S. agencies, establish a methodology for consistently reporting comprehensive data across agencies, and periodically inventory agencies’ food security-related programs and funding; and (2) collaborate with other agency heads to finalize a governmentwide strategy that delineates measures to mitigate the risks associated with the host country-led approach.”

USDA announces program to develop more nutritious humanitarian food aid packages

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) “announced a new grant program to develop healthier food products for humanitarian assistance programs.” The program will award approximately $3.8 million in grants in Fiscal Year 2010.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testifies before Congress on the FY 2011 Agriculture Budget

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified before the House Committee on Appropriations (Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies) on the FY 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget request and USDA’s role in addressing global food insecurity through capacity building programs, partnerships with other U.S. departments and agencies, and funding for emergency and non-emergency food assistance.

CRS Report – International Food Aid Programs: Background and Issues

This report provides an overview of U.S. food aid programs and highlights specific issues for Congress including “improving aid effectiveness; developing “demand-driven” strategies that take into account the recipient country’s needs and strategic plans for food security; determining the best form for providing food aid and assistance, whether in the form of cash or commodities; . . . and determining the cost-effectiveness of U.S. cargo preferences for delivering U.S. food aid.”

CRS Report – State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2010 Budget and Appropriations

From the report summary: “This report analyzes the FY2010 request, recent-year funding trends, and congressional action for FY2010, which includes the July 9 House approval of H.R. 3081, the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for FY2010, July 9 Senate Appropriations Committee passage of its bill (S. 1434), and passage of H.R. 3288, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, signed into law Dec. 16, 2009 (P.L. 111-117).”

USDA contributes $250,000 to assist developing countries improve sanitary and phytosanitary standards

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) donated $250,000 to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to help developing countries “establish and implement sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS).” Commenting on the donation, Secretary Vilsack stated that “when countries improve their SPS capabilities, they also improve their own food security by supporting the safety of food consumed domestically, [and] by protecting their agricultural production from losses due to pests and diseases.”

The STDF was established by the World Trade Organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, The World Organization for Animal Health, and the World Bank.