Globally, 795 million people — just over one in nine— are malnourished, as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Without enough food, adults struggle to work and children struggle to learn. Advancing sustainable, agricultural-led growth increases the availability of food, keeps food affordable, and raises the incomes of the poor. AGP is engaged in a full-scale effort, working together with the Secretary’s Office of Global Food Security and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) to advance Feed the Future (FTF), the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, to combat acute food insecurity and the G-7 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a partnership among G-7 and African governments, and the private sector.

Improving Food Security

World Food Prize

The World Food Prize recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Each year more than 4,000 institutions and organizations are invited to nominate candidates for the prize. The World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony is held in June at the Department of State where Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, announces that year’s winner of the World Food Prize, a Nobel equivalent. The official award is presented at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, every October in conjunction with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium.

WTO Committee on Agriculture

The office participates on the U.S. delegation to the WTO Committee on Agriculture (COA), which meets quarterly in Geneva, Switzerland. There, the U.S. delegation advocates for improved market access for U.S. agricultural products, calls on other countries to abide by their WTO obligations, and defends U.S. agricultural policies as necessary. In addition to the official WTO meetings, the delegation typically holds bilateral and plurilateral consultations on the margins to discuss trade irritants in a less formal setting. Following each quarterly meeting, the office representative drafts a cable that documents the discussions and informs our embassy teams around the world of what transpired. The U.S. Trade Representative takes the lead in WTO COA negotiations, and the Department of Agriculture also plays an integral role.

Food Assistance

The office played a leading role negotiating the 2013 Food Assistance Convention (FAC), which replaced the 1999 Food Aid Convention. The new Convention expands the traditional focus of previous Food Aid Conventions and now includes all forms of food assistance that will protect and improve access to food for those most in need. The FAC also includes a new commitment structure, a broader toolbox of eligible activities and food assistance products, as well as a commitment to improved transparency and accountability. The objectives of the Food Assistance Convention are to save lives, reduce hunger, improve food security, and improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable populations by:

  • addressing the food and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable populations through commitments made by the Parties to provide food assistance that improves access to, and consumption of, adequate, safe and nutritious food;
  • ensuring that food assistance provided to the most vulnerable populations is appropriate, timely, effective, efficient, and based on needs and shared principles; and
  • facilitating information-sharing, cooperation, and coordination, and providing a forum for discussion in order to improve the effective, efficient, and coherent use of the Parties’ resources to respond to needs.

Removing Food Export Restrictions

During the food price crisis in 2007-2008, we saw that policies in a number of countries that restricted the free trade of food led to hoarding and panic buying, exacerbating the spike in food prices. Despite the increased prices, domestic farmers could not afford the increases in seed and fertilizer prices. This illustrated how these “beggar thy neighbor policies” can impede the achievement of long-term food security by discouraging farmers from increasing production to meet increased demand. We work with international organizations such as the Group of 20 (G20) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group to ensure that partners act consistently with their international trade obligations, leading to greater price stability and, as a result, greater food security for all nations. Additionally, the U.S. helped to ensure that disciplines to minimize the use of agricultural export restrictions and bans were included in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the first time that this issue has ever been addressed in a binding trade agreement. Finally, we also work bilaterally with food exporting countries as well as net food importing countries to increase the transparency and sharing of information on food stocks and production, to abstain from export bans, to avoid panic buying and hoarding, to reduce import tariffs and taxes, and to create targeted safety nets for their most vulnerable citizens.

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