The U.S. Senate’s version of the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252), supported by NCBA CLUSA and other international NGOs working to improve food security and support small farmers, passed by voice vote on April 20, a week after the House passed its version of the bill by a vote of 370-33. Both versions of the bill must now be reconciled before one piece of legislation is sent to the President for signing.
Both versions of the bill are nearly identical, but the Senate version includes two major differences: 1.) It suggests a two-year authorization, rather than the House’s one-year authorization and 2.) It includes an authorization of appropriations for an existing International Disaster Assistance program, called the Emergency Food Security Program. This program is currently feeding Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and is not replacing Food for Peace.
NCBA CLUSA is a signatory to InterAction’s coalition statement of support for the act and will continue to advocate for increased food security funding and a comprehensive strategy to fight malnutrition. If they are not reconciled and sent to the President beforehand, NCBA CLUSA will promote both bills during its 2016 Annual Cooperatives Conference in May.
NCBA CLUSA’s Advocacy Team is pleased that both versions of the bill preserve the language on cooperatives they recommended—a good indication that co-op-friendly language will survive a final version.
The Global Food Security Act would authorize over $1 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to carry out a comprehensive global food security strategy in fiscal year 2017. The strategy focuses on increasing sustainable and equitable agricultural development, reducing global hunger and improving nutrition—especially in the key first 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The legislation also promotes country ownership and accountability, improving upon existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure transparency and efficiency.
Sponsors of the House version of the bill included Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), head of the Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the recently formed bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus. NCBA CLUSA applauds the bipartisan efforts of Representatives Royce, Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) and their co-sponsors for their leadership on this important piece of legislation.
“NCBA CLUSA will continue to support the Global Food Security Act by urging legislators to reconcile House and Senate versions of the bill and move it forward into law,” said Alan Knapp, Vice President of Advocacy for NCBA CLUSA. “From our flagship Feed the Future Yaajeende project in Senegal to integrating nutrition-led agriculture throughout our programs, NCBA CLUSA is dedicated to alleviating hunger and supporting the agricultural sector as a key to sustainable development.”
That focus on farmers has clear impact. NCBA CLUSA trains farmers across Africa in conservation agriculture techniques, improving yields on average by 50 percent. These increased yields provide communities access to more nutritious fruit and vegetable varieties through Oasis gardens and also provide surplus for sales, leading to increased household incomes. Growth in the agriculture sector is 2 – 4 times as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank.