#Article (Archive)

Hunger Knows No Borders

Apr 23, 2009, 10:26 AM

This past weekend I attended the first-ever Agriculture Ministerial in the Group of Eight's (G-8) history. What brings Ministers from the world's wealthiest countries together is a shared commitment to eliminating hunger and improving the incomes and well-being of the world's poorest. The World Bank estimates that 150 million people have been trapped in extreme poverty as a result of the global economic, food and fuel price crises, undercutting their ability to get the food they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Earlier this month, President Obama met in London with leaders of the Group of Twenty to establish a coordinated response to the international economic crisis. It was there that he announced that he would ask Congress to double U.S. financial support for agricultural development in poor countries to over $1 billion in 2010. A week later, at the International Food Aid Conference in Kansas City, I announced an additional $80 million to fund four more McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition projects in Africa that will feed 655,000 children.

Why are these actions important? Together they constitute a balanced approach to helping achieve food security today and tomorrow. Today, we are helping to meet short term needs through our food aid programs.America's proud food aid legacy began after World War II. Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has supplied roughly half of food aid from all donors. And while the U.S. remains the world's largest food aid supplier, a remarkable achievement made possible by the U.S. agricultural community, the work of private voluntary organisations and U.S. commodity and industry groups, and our citizens' longstanding commitment to sharing America's bounty with those less fortunate, we also need to be working to help people feed themselves tomorrow.

We are now facing a reality where growth in demand for agricultural products is outpacing growth in supply. With his request to Congress, President Obama has demonstrated a commitment to arresting the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger now enveloping more than one billion of the world's people.  The President's action will help developing countries boost the productivity of their land and build prosperity among their rural poor, so that we are giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

The scourges of malnutrition and hunger know no borders.At last weekend's G8 Agriculture meeting, I told my counterparts, as I have told our citizens at home, that this Administration is committed to - and taking action to achieve - a food supply that is safe, sufficient and nutritious for all Americans and for people around the world.

Courtesy of US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.