President Obama Signs Food Security Act

posted on September 14, 2016 5:17pm

President Barack Obama recently signed the Global Food Security Act to help developing nations expand their agricultural capacity and get on a path to self-sufficiency.

Global food security and nutrition programs help families and farmers build the foundations for more independent and prosperous lives. By sharing U.S. expertise in agriculture development and supporting programs that work in partnership with smallholder farmers and especially women, we can continue the progress already being made to tackle hunger and malnutrition under the Feed the Future Initiative. Last year alone, this initiative improved the nutrition of 12.5 million children and assisted nearly 7 million farmers and producers in improving their use of technology and land management practices.

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The Global Food Security Act focuses on the following key areas:

  • Developing a comprehensive global food security strategy to promote global food and nutrition security.
  • Preserving the whole-of-government approach that focuses on coordinating the efforts of 11 departments and agencies to incorporate agricultural development, improve maternal and child nutrition, build the resilience of communities, and engage in partnerships with civil society.
  • Aligning U.S. assistance with country owned strategies to enhance agricultural productivity, household income, local economies, and food and nutrition security to work toward the ultimate goal of transitioning countries away from U.S. assistance.
  • Prioritizing the growth of small-scale producers’ income, productivity, and livelihoods and improving nutrition, especially among women and children.
  • Leveraging unique partnerships with NGOs, the private sector, and reseach and academic institutions.
  • Improving upon existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure the most effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
  • Authorizing appropriations to carry out international development assistance programs and activities under the strategy.

Obama announced the action at the White House Summit on Global Development in Washington, prompting a hearty round of applause.

“You’re not surprised I signed it, right?” he asked the crowd, eliciting laughter from those in attendance. “We’ve been working on this for a while. We got it passed, so it’s my job to sign it.”

The bipartisan bill authorizes more than $7 billion for international food programs, ensuring that presidential initiatives like Feed the Future “endure well into the future,” Obama said. 

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., lead sponsor of the measure in the Senate, said, “The biggest takeaway of this law is that it will improve nutrition for 12 million children and increase the income of 7 million farmers.”

He gave credit to Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., as well as Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Betty McCollum, D-Minn. “I also want to acknowledge Senators Mike Johanns and Richard Lugar, who are no longer in Congress but were my earliest partners on this effort.”

The bill requires the executive branch to coordinate the efforts of relevant federal agencies in developing a global food security strategy. It requires the establishment of “specific and measurable goals” to improve nutrition, especially for women and children, and promotes agricultural development for small-scale producers.

Under Feed the Future, Obama said that last year, “we reached over 9 million farmers across the globe, reducing hunger, boosting yields, and increasing incomes by more than $800 million. In many of the areas where we work, poverty has been cut by up to a quarter. Stunting is down by as much as a third. Nearly 18 million more children are getting better nutrition.”

“Let’s sustain this progress,” he said. “Let’s make hunger history.”

In his remarks, Obama also mentioned the importance of trade, telling the audience that in his travels to developing nations, “People tell me … they do not just want aid, they want trade. They want capacity-building.”

“So having renewed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, moving ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we can make sure that trade and globalization delivers progress not just for those at the top, but also for the many,” he said.

The law, S. 1252, provides statutory authority for Feed the Future and the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP), which the U.S. Agency for International Development has been using to provide food aid.