Feed the Future bill passes U.S. House, Senate

y Allison Floyd

University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

The U.S. Senate passed the Global Food Security Act by a voice vote on Thursday, following approval of a similar bill by the House last week.

The Senate version – authored by Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Bob Casey, D-Penn. – and House version – sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-NJ, and others – call for a comprehensive strategy for development programs that use American agricultural expertise to address food insecurity around the world.

“Chronic hunger and malnutrition are serious problems that have much larger and lasting effects on nations’ economic and political stability, and ultimately on U.S. national security,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “I believe the Global Food Security Act of 2016 will allow the United States to continue to lead the world in food security. This legislation will not only benefit our national security, it will also have a real, direct impact on the lives of children, mothers and families around the world. The Global Food Security Act gives developing countries a path to self-sufficiency through agricultural development. I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

The Global Food Security Act is based on the premise that “global food insecurity,” or the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food, impacts not only developing nations’ economies and productivity, but also the international economy and U.S. national security. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 recognizes the important role that agricultural development plays in economic growth, including for women and small-scale producers, as well as the value of leveraging resources and expertise from U.S. academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, private voluntary organizations, and the private sector.

Specifically, the Global Food Security Act of 2016 would:

  • Require the administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food insecurity and hunger. The strategy would emphasize agricultural development, improving maternal and child nutrition, building the resilience of communities, and civil society engagement.

  • Ensure the alignment of U.S. assistance with developing countries’ own initiatives to enhance agricultural productivity, household income, local economies, and food and nutrition security to work toward the ultimate goal of transitioning countries and communities away from the need for U.S. assistance under this Act.

  • Improve existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure the effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars, including enhanced reporting requirements to Congress.

  • Create the Emergency Food Response Fund by authorizing use of the International Disaster Assistance account to continue to respond to the emergency food needs of communities affected by natural or manmade disasters.

  • Require that the administration report to Congress and to the American people annually about the strategy, its results, and the use of foreign assistance funds.

President Obama must present a strategy for implementing the bill by Oct. 1.

Published April 20, 2016