Today, September 21, 2022, at the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden announced $2.9 billion in assistance to address global food insecurity and urged other countries to follow suit. President Biden stressed: “If parents cannot feed their children, nothing else matters.”
This announcement comes as the Biden administration is taking serious steps to combat the global food crisis caused by supply chain disruptions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This move is part of the Biden administration’s plan to invest more of the $6 billion+ in aid that Congress approved earlier this year to address one of the worst food crises that we’ve seen in a while. The President also announced $2.76 billion in aid at the G7 meeting in June earlier this year.
It’s important to note that the beyond funding, there’s a strong emphasis on nutrition security. The United States hosted the Global Food Security Summit yesterday, with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health coming later this month. In 2019, the Secretary General announced a UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) for 2021, which happened just about a year ago. It brought together 140 countries to focus on the importance of food security and was chaired by Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the former Agriculture Minister from Rwanda, and the current President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, based in Kenya. She is devoting her career to growing Africa out of poverty.
Funding and conferences are all concrete actions that will impact the growing global food crisis – and even end it under normal circumstances.
However, these are not normal circumstances. Climate change is causing massive disruptions, including a years-long drought in the Horn of Africa resulting in catastrophic food insecurity. COVID-19 caused several supply chain shocks that added stress to already extended producers. Rising inflation targets not only the neediest families nationally, but internationally. Further instability, including that from intrastate conflict and Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, has these compounded problems and made a complicated mess for the Biden administration to help organize.
The President’s speech at the United Nations put a bright spotlight on the importance of global food security. It was former Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) who said in a variety of ways, on many occasions, “Food security is a matter of national security.” He was spot on, and so is President Biden.
In the short run, humanitarian food assistance is essential to prevent millions of people from starving. In the long run, technology must reach smallholder farmers around the world so they can feed themselves and become profitable businesses. Half the hungry people in the world are farmers who do not produce enough food to feed their families. Agriculture is still the future.
Breakdown of $2.9 Billion in additional funding to strengthen global food security (from the White House Fact Sheet)
- $2 billion in global humanitarian assistance through USAID
- $783 million in global development assistance funding, including:
- $140 in new development funding through Feed the Future’s new Accelerated Innovation Delivery Initiative to help smallholder farmers get access to agricultural tools, technologies, and production methods.
- $220 million for eight new school feeding projects in Africa and East Asia through USDA, awarded through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program
- $178 for seven international development projects to promote climate-smart agriculture, trade, and more across four continents, awarded through the USDA’s Food for Progress Program
- $245 million for the Accelerated Growth Corridors Project in the U.S.-Malawi compact to be signed later this month
- $150 million for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program