- Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman co-authored an op-ed with Richard Leach, President and CEO of World Food Program USA, in today’s edition of Politico: “This Farm Bill enhances U.S. leadership in the fight against hunger and makes an important statement about America’s values. Washington still faces extreme political polarization, but the Senate Farm Bill seeks to fight against global hunger using efforts that both parties can support.”
Farm bill helps fight global hunger
By Dan Glickman and Richard Leach
June 14, 2012
Fighting global hunger has traditionally been a bipartisan effort that has united administrations and congresses without regard to party. The Farm Bill developed by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee continues that trend.
U.S. food aid provides the backbone of the global emergency response system. It is essential for responding to floods, droughts and other natural disasters, which have increased by 400 percent over the past two decades. U.S. food aid also provides a lifeline for people affected and displaced by conflict, whose number has risen from 17.4 million in 1997 to 27.5 million today. This emergency support is vital to restoring and maintaining stability in volatile regions, including those that are of key national security concern for the U.S. This new bill provides more flexibility to draw on food aid stocks when circumstances require it.
It also increases efficiency by reducing costs linked with monetization — the practice of selling U.S. food aid commodities on foreign markets to generate cash for development programs. Between 24 and 42 cents of every dollar has been lost through monetization, according to the Government Accountability Office. But we are now going to move away from this inefficient practice, which means that every dollar spent on food aid will have a greater impact.
The bill also promotes enhanced nutrition, increasing the nutritional quality of food aid.
U.S. NGOs and companies will be better able to provide products that meet specialized nutritional needs of vulnerable populations — particularly pregnant women and children under two. It helps link small scale farmers with school feeding programs – so these farmers can feed their communities while also helping to shift school feeding programs to local government control.
Building on lessons learned from the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Farm Bill also fosters greater coordination among U.S. programs and agencies. The bill’s provisions ensure that future emergency programs are connected with longer-term development efforts, so it can help prevent a cycle of recurring emergencies.
Though additional steps still need to be taken to comprehensively address hunger, this Farm Bill enhances U.S. leadership in the fight against hunger and makes an important statement about America’s values. Washington still faces extreme political polarization, but the Senate Farm Bill seeks to fight against global hunger using efforts that both parties can support.
Dan Glickman served as the agriculture secretary 1995-2001 and represented Kansas in the House for 18 years He is now the board of World Food Program USA. Richard Leach is president and chief executive officer of World Food Program USA.