Biden announces more food aid in UN speech
Today, Sept. 21, in his address to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden announced more than $2.9 billion in new assistance from the U.S. government to address global food insecurity, the White House said in a fact sheet it released.
The White House explained, “The compounding impacts of the pandemic, the deepening climate crisis, rising energy and fertilizer costs, and protracted conflicts – including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – have disrupted global supply chains and dramatically increased global food prices. A multi-year drought in the Horn of Africa has created a dire humanitarian emergency, with parts of Somalia at risk of famine for the second time in just over a decade. This new announcement of $2.9 billion will save lives through emergency interventions and invest in medium- to long-term food security assistance in order to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis.”
Biden said $2 billion of the assistance would come through the U.S. Agency for International Development, with the rest coming from the Agriculture Department.
Biden’s announcement builds on the $6.9 billion in U.S. government assistance to support global food security already committed this year, according to the fact sheet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/09/21/fact-sheet-at-united-nations-general-assembly-president-biden-announces-2-9-billion-in-additional-funding-to-strengthen-global-food-security/.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release that as part of Biden’s announcement USDA will invest $178 million in seven international development projects on four continents to support U.S. government priorities including promoting climate-smart agriculture, facilitating trade and addressing the root causes of migration in Central America, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced today.
The funds are being awarded under the Food for Progress Program, through which USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service partners with non-governmental organizations and foreign governments on projects that help developing countries strengthen their agricultural systems and boost their trade capacity.
“Food for Progress is a cornerstone of USDA’s international capacity-building efforts. This year, as we emerge from a global pandemic and face the challenges of rising hunger and poverty, changing climate and the worldwide fallout of Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine, this work is more important than ever,” Vilsack said. “By partnering with private-sector organizations, local governments, and local producers and businesses, we are helping to build more equitable and resilient food systems, sustainably boost production capacity to combat food insecurity, and increase farmers’ incomes while enhancing their ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
USDA also announced that Biden’s announcement includes $220 million to be awarded through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which is administered by FAS. USDA will invest in eight new school feeding projects that are expected to benefit more than a million children across 2,200 schools in food-insecure countries in Africa and East Asia, Vilsack added.
Vilsack noted that the McGovern-Dole program is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and added, “Through the McGovern-Dole Program, the United States is proud to be the largest global donor to school feeding efforts. During the last two decades, the program has had a remarkable track record, benefiting more than 31 million children and families in 48 countries and providing more than 5.5 billion school meals. The need continues today, as the global challenges of war, pandemic and climate change contribute to rising food insecurity.”
The White House also noted that Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in a Global Food Security Summit on Tuesday. But Teresa Welsh, a reporter for Devex, the media platform for the global development community, said today, “I planned to lead this newsletter with news out of the U.S.-hosted Food Security Summit held yesterday afternoon but … there isn’t really any? The event was downgraded from a presidential summit — U.S. President Joe Biden was meant to host it — after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral scrambled much of the high-level week of the 77th United Nations General Assembly. Only opening remarks of the event were livestreamed, press was kicked out of the room at that time, and no big new financial commitments were announced (although … Blinken alluded to a forthcoming announcement from Biden during his General Assembly speech today.)”
The State Department posted a declaration from the participants in the summit listing seven lines of action that are needed to address food issues, but Welsh wrote that “the list, which includes increasing humanitarian funding, avoiding export restrictions, and accelerating food systems reform, doesn’t include anything we haven’t heard before.”
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