WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on July 6 by a lopsided 369-to-53 vote approved the Global Food Security Act of 2016, S. 1252. The measure was passed by the Senate by voice vote on April 20. The legislation, which reaffirms and defines reforms to U.S. global food and agriculture assistance efforts and programs, was sent to President Barack Obama for his signature, which was assured.
The bill ensures the continuation of President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which was launched in 2010 to assist selected developing countries to increase their food production and security and improve nutrition for vulnerable populations.
Additionally, the bill confirms the role of the Emergency Food Security Program (E.F.S.P.), under which the United States provides cash for use in providing critical food assistance abroad as a supplement to in-kind donations of commodities under P.L.480 Title II. E.F.S.P. assistance may take the form of cash or vouchers as well as regional and local purchase, the purchase of food from countries or areas close to food emergency outbreaks. In 2015, half of the $2.1 billion in annual emergency U.S. food aid came from the E.F.S.P.
According to a Congressional Research Service summary, the bill requires the President or a designee to coordinate the development and implementation of a whole-of-government Feed the Future Strategy to accomplish the following objectives: Eradicate hunger and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Assist foreign countries to achieve long-term, sustainable, and inclusive agricultural development. Ensure the effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to further these objectives.
The bill sets forth requirements for the Strategy and requires the President or a designee to coordinate the efforts of relevant federal departments and agencies in implementing it.
The bill specifies for the purposes of carrying out the Global Food Security Strategy, the Congress may provide assistance to the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Specifically, the bill authorizes Congress to appropriate to those agencies a total of $1,000,600,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 and 2018 for the initiative.
President Obama responded to the House vote stating, “Today, I’m proud to see that Congress has passed S.1252, the Global Food Security Act of 2016, an overwhelmingly bipartisan piece of legislation that will put Feed the Future, our global hunger and food security initiative, into law.
“This game-changing development initiative — the first of my Administration — has helped increase economic growth and stem the tide of global hunger, poverty and malnutrition over the span of just a few years,” President Obama said. “While we’ve already accomplished so much through this collaborative global partnership, 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.”
Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, said he was pleased the Global Food Security Act capitalizes on the commitment of the U.S. agriculture community to alleviate hunger and enhance food security across the globe “without overhauling time-tested food aid programs that provide U.S. commodities for emergency feeding and development projects worldwide.”
“While I do have reservations about the E.F.S.P., I am mindful of the need to keep ‘a variety of tools in the toolbox’ in order to effectively combat global hunger,” Mr. Conaway said. “With E.F.S.P. funding now roughly equal to that of emergency aid under Food for Peace, private voluntary organizations should have the flexibility they so desire to complement existing in-kind assistance programs. I look forward to monitoring the implementation of the Global Food Security Strategy and developing a better understanding of how our foreign assistance dollars are being put to use —particularly those allocated to E.F.S.P. projects.”