The Light at End of the Tunnel: Congress Passes the Global Food Security Act

Posted by on July 8th, 2016 | 0 Comments »
PHOTO: USAID Feed the Future Initiative

In Bangladesh, Feed the Future helps Nadia earn more profit and gain a voice in the public sphere. Photo Credit: USAID Feed the Future

By: Zoë Womack, Policy and Research Intern

“We’re almost there!” remarked Kent Hill, Senior Vice President of World Vision, two weeks ago at a major collaborative event on Capitol Hill. The event recognized the leadership and hard work of several members of Congress to propel the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) forward for a vote to passage in the House of Representatives.

Nearly 50 organizations have spent four years in a coordinated effort to advance bipartisan legislation that will permanently authorize U.S. programs to fight global hunger.  Having already passed the Senate, where it was co-sponsored by Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. and Senator Johnny Isakson, many anticipated its passage, but held their breath until the final count.

With 369 House Members voting yes, the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) officially passed the House on July 6, 2016!

The GFSA is a bipartisan bill that addresses the chronic food insecurity and malnutrition disrupting the lives of one in nine people, totaling 795 million globally. The Act seeks to improve upon the large success of the U.S. government initiative, Feed the Future.

This legislation includes the development and implementation of a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to combat hunger in developing countries by focusing on increasing equitable agricultural development and improving nutrition. While promoting country ownership and accountability, the bill supports programs that build the resilience of communities, ensures safety nets for vulnerable populations, fosters research for improved nutrition, advocates environmental protection, encourages gender equality, and empowers women.

The GFSA recognizes the necessary role of small-scale farmers, women, and local food economies, and it promotes sustainable agriculture growth and investment. With its passing, we are making an exciting step forward in building the political will, best practices, and transparency that are needed to end global hunger and malnutrition in the coming decades.

The legislation also provides a mandate for an emergency program, called the Emergency Food Security Program, in which electronic vouchers and locally procured commodities are available to feed refugees and other people in crisis.  This complements the Food for Peace Program, in which U.S. commodities (corn, soy, other grains and pulses) are used to directly feed vulnerable populations, or are monetized to provide resources for development programs.   Together, the two programs operate in parallel and complement one another, with respective abilities to reach different target populations.

The next step in the process is for President Obama to sign the legislation so that it can become law, allowing programs such as the Feed the Future Initiative to have permanent stability for years to come.  The President has welcomed the passage of this legislation, which authorizes one of his first international efforts to cut hunger and poverty.  As the President stated upon passage of the bill in Congress: “I know that with the continued effort and support that this legislation provides, we can achieve what was just a few years ago the unimaginable: We can end global poverty and hunger within our lifetimes.”

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