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Senate Committee Approves Global Food Security Act

On March 31, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved, by voice vote, S. 384, the Global Food Security Act of 2009. The bill was the subject of a hearing on March 24 (see The Source, 3/27/09).

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), would amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-194) and authorize $750 million for FY2010, $1 billion for FY2011, $1.5 billion for FY2012, $2 billion for FY2013, and $2.5 billion for FY2014 “to provide assistance to foreign countries to promote food security, to stimulate rural economies, and to improve emergency response to food crises.”

Specifically, the bill would create a special coordinator for Food Security in the Executive Office of the President who would develop a comprehensive food security strategy that, among other things, incorporates “approaches directed at reaching women in poverty” and “provides appropriate linkages with United States international health programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief [PEPFAR]” (P.L. 110-293).

The bill would require the special coordinator to submit to Congress within one year of enactment a report on the progress of the food security strategy.The bill would establish that, “It is the policy of the United States to promote global food security, to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, to alleviate poverty, to improve agricultural productivity and rural development, to support the development of institutions of higher learning that will enhance human capacity, entrepreneurial skills and job creation, agricultural research and technology, and the dissemination of farming techniques to all parts of the agriculture sector, and to support sustainable farming methods.”

The bill would amend P.L. 87-194 to expand agricultural, rural development, and nutrition programs within international bilateral assistance “to improve nutrition of vulnerable populations, such as children under the age of two years old, and pregnant or lactating women.”

The bill’s findings state that “Nearly 1 billion people worldwide suffer from food insecurity, defined as a lack of access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for an active and healthy life” and that “25,000 people die each day from malnutrition-related causes.” S. 384 also finds that “A diverse and secure food supply has health benefits, including increasing child survival, improving cognitive and physical development of children, especially those under two years of age, increasing immune system function including resistance to HIV/AIDS, and improving human performance” and that “Women, who are often heads of households, comprise a large proportion of small holders and face unique challenges and heightened vulnerability to food insecurity.”

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