Sustaining U.S. Commitment to Food Security and Agricultural Development

By Anna Applefield

In 2010, President Obama committed $3.5 billion over three years to global food security programming. This commitment became USAID’s flagship initiative on food security, called Feed the Future (FtF), which over the last four years has been committed to reducing food insecurity in its 19 focus countries.

In the eleventh hour of the 113th Congress, a bi-partisan bill to continue funding for FtF, introduced by Representatives Smith (R-NJ) and McCollum (D-MN) passed the House of Representatives and went to the Senate for consideration. The bill was not passed by the Senate, so it will be left to a new Congress to decide the future of food security programming.

FtF has been a major priority for USAID, but without authorized funding the budget is vulnerable every year, which weakens the program’s overall ability to function. Because Obama has spearheaded the effort and refocused USAID’s priorities heavily on this program, many people have politicized the initiative, which further jeopardizes its ability to gain sustained funding.

Regardless of the political dynamics, FtF has revitalized the U.S. commitment to agriculture abroad in a way hasn’t been seen in decades.  Although there are certainly ways that FtF can and should be improved, there are several key reasons we should be thinking about how we can cement long-term success by continuing to improve and expand programming, rather than cutting back on food security funding at this critical time.

Poomparai Village is a farming community in Tamil Nadu, India.

A farming community in Tamil Nadu, India.  Photo obtained via Parthan’s flickr photostream under a creative commons license

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