Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shifting the focus on U.S. food aid

In a speech yesterday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S. will make changes in how it fights global hunger. Right now, the US spends a lot more in food aid than it does on projects that help develop the food production of the under-developed world. Valsack wants to change that, and said that they plan meet with agriculture ministers in Africa on how to best to help the continent's food security.

From this Reuters article, writer Mark Weinraub provides more background on US policy.

President Barack Obama has said his administration will ask Congress to double funding for agricultural development aid to $1 billion by 2010.

Aid groups have urged the administration and Congress to do more to address global hunger and poverty.

The United States is the world's largest donor of emergency food aid -- mainly crops grown by American farmers -- but spends 20 times as much on food aid to Africa as it spends on programs that could boost African food production, according to research by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

U.S. annual spending on African farming projects topped $400 million in the 1980s, but by 2006 had dwindled to just $60 million, the council has said.

Vilsack said the United States wants to invest in roads and other infrastructure projects in foreign countries to ensure that food is accessible to everyone who needs it.

Developing nations may also be able to produce more food for trade, helping to improve the global economy, he said.

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