Nutrition, supplementation during first thousand days of life—from conception to second birthday—radically saves women's and children's lives
Global Food Security Act Passes House
Contact: Smith - Jeff Sagnip, 202-225-3765; McCollum - Evan Hollander, 202-225-6631
WASHINGTON, April 13, 2016 /Standard Newswire/ -- A bipartisan bill to take on global hunger and help the world's most impoverished countries develop better agricultural practices was passed by the House last night. Sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House panel that oversees global health initiatives, and cosponsored by lead Democrat, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) of 2016 (H.R. 1567), is designed to help prevent starvation and famine, and reduce hunger and malnutrition by enabling countries to feed their own people.
"The Global Food Security Act—HR 1567—authorizes a comprehensive, strategic approach for U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote inclusive, sustainable agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children and build resilience among vulnerable populations," said Chairman Smith, who has spearheaded similar U.S. international health and nutritional initiatives throughout his career, dating back to legislation he successfully offered in 1985 to restore and double the commitment to the then Child Survival Fund program, which helped protect children who would otherwise die from preventable, curable diseases. "This legislation will help provide a long-term solution to global hunger by authorizing the existing national food security program coordinated by USAID commonly known as Feed the Future. Feed the Future strengthens nutrition, especially for children during that critical first 1000 day-window, from conception to the child's second birthday, and also teaches small farm operators modern techniques to increase agricultural yield and feed their people. Helping nations achieve food security is also in the national security interest of the United States." Click here to read Smith's floor statement.
Smith and McCollum have worked years to bring about passage of the bill, which was approved in a 370-33 vote.
"Reducing hunger and improving nutrition around the world must be a foreign policy priority. The Global Food Security Act does that by investing in hardworking farmers so they can grow the food they need to feed their families," Representative McCollum said. "Empowering smallholder farmers, especially women, helps them grow their way out of poverty, improve nutrition for their children, and develop new economic opportunities. This investment in global food security strengthens communities and improves our own national security."
Smith and McCollum noted the cooperation and work of House Agricultural Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-11) in bringing the bill to the floor.
"With the world population rapidly increasing—particularly in some of the most impoverished and food insecure regions—H.R. 1567 is of critical importance in the effort to alleviate global hunger and to enhance food security," Chairman Conaway said. "The agricultural community is proud to have long played a crucial role in this effort, and we are eager to continue doing our part."
Smith and McCollum also cited the key co-sponsorship and strong support of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-CA) Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), and other House co-sponsors who are leaders in the fight against global hunger and malnutrition, and advocates of small-scale producers' efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
Begun by President Bush and continued by President Obama, the current U.S. food security program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, but without official statutory authorization. The Smith-McCollum bill would permanently codify and authorize such efforts and help marshal a worldwide commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition.
The program's goals are to build or rebuild local capacity and sustainability, linking local entrepreneurs to the local and regional economy. It also focuses on nutrition programs during the first 1000 days of life, from conception to the child's second birthday.
"UNICEF estimates that one in four children worldwide is stunted due to lack of adequate nutrition," Smith said. "By maximizing nutrition during the first 1000 days of life, we help ensure that the next 25,000 days or more in a person's life are more likely to be healthier and disease free."
In the past year, Feed the Future has helped seven million farmers across the globe increase harvests, resulting in improved nutrition for 12.5 million children. To give one example, in Ethiopia stunting rates were driven down by nine percent in just three years, resulting in roughly 160,000 fewer children suffering from malnutrition.
The legislation seeks to capture and sustain the successes the U.S. government is already achieving through its Feed the Future Initiative. Drawing on resources and expertise from 11 federal agencies, Feed the Future is investing in national agricultural investment strategies and is helping many countries in need, including 19 focus countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, transform their agricultural sectors and sustainably produce enough nutritious food to feed their people. The Initiative has already achieved impressive results: in 2013, Feed the Future reached more than 12.5 million children with nutrition interventions and helped nearly seven million farmers and producers with new technologies and management practices on more than 4 million hectares of land.
"The approach we have taken in the Global Food Security Act is fiscally disciplined—there is no additional cost to the US taxpayer," Smith said. "USAID will be authorized however to do more by more effectively leveraging our aid with that of other countries, the private sector, NGOs and, especially faith-based organizations, whose great work on the ground in so many different countries impacts so many lives."
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be the lead U.S. agency, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of State, the U.S. African Development Foundation and other agencies. Beyond its humanitarian impact, the Smith-McCollum bill also buttresses national security. A January 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community report stated that the "lack of adequate food will be a destabilizing factor in countries important to United States national security that do not have the financial or technical abilities to solve their internal food security problems. Lack of food and nutrition in nations with weak governments might embolden insurgent groups to exploit conditions and undermine and destabilize regions."
Over 50 non-governmental, faith-based and university organizations have signed on to a statement of support of the Smith legislation. These include American Jewish World Services, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Bread for the World, Food for the Hungry, InterAction, Lutheran World Relief, Salesian Missions and World Vision.
Click here to read the bill.
Updated release can be found here: