Food security post

May 7, 2018 – Rep. Chris Smith recently published an op-ed in Townhall, addressing the global fight against hunger and the role comprehensive action on food security plays in strengthening U.S. foreign policy.

“Sudden shifts in power like this [food insecurity], with the rise of radical groups, can pose a direct threat to the national security of the U.S. and can destabilize an entire country or region for decades,” said Smith.

As the Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Rep. Smith introduced the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018. This legislation reauthorizes the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) and was passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in April with bipartisan support.

Below are excerpts from Rep. Smith’s op-ed.

Owing in large part to the generosity of the American taxpayer, worldwide starvation and chronic hunger have dropped notably. According to estimates by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of undernourished people in the world fell by over 100 million from 2003 to 2016.

While we’re making progress in the global fight against hunger, clearly much more needs to be done. Congress enacted the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) in 2016 to help countries achieve food security, self-sufficiency, and, ultimately, political stability.

Joined by Rep. Betty McCollum [(D-MN)], I recently introduced the bill to reauthorize the GFSA through 2020—the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 (HR 5129)—which passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 17. It represents a long-term investment in countries that goes far beyond just emergency food aid, as it is a time-tested way for the U.S. to bring transformative results to countries through foreign aid, while saving taxpayers money in the long run.

It accomplishes this by, first, providing targeted nutrition aid to children and their mothers during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception until the second birthday.

We know that children who receive the nutrition they need will have a critical head start in their healthy growth and their ability to fend off diseases when they are older. Conversely, children who are malnourished—beginning in utero—may suffer from cognitive and physical deficiencies for a lifetime, including weaker immune systems and chronic diseases…

Second, the GFSA protects U.S. national security by fighting food insecurity that, as we saw in 2007-08, can be a key source of severe political instability. The 2008 food riots in Egypt, for example, triggered a chain of events that led to the rise of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Sudden shifts in power like this, with the rise of radical groups, can pose a direct threat to the national security of the U.S. and can destabilize an entire country or region for decades.

Third, the law helps local farmers and businesses in developing countries become more self-sufficient, which improves the stability and future economic outlook of developing countries and saves the United States taxpayer dollars in the long run.

The law funds programs for local farmers in developing countries to increase crop yields, become resilient to droughts and adverse weather, and find new ways to bring their products to market, thus helping them become less reliant upon foreign aid… The Administrator of USAID Mark Green has already stated that the goal of U.S. foreign aid is to accomplish an environment where aid is no longer needed…

Global hunger remains an urgent problem, and we remain dedicated to helping the hundreds of millions who are still chronically hungry each day. Malnourishment for young children can cause severe and long-lasting health problems. The future of hundreds of millions of women and children is at stake.

However, by strengthening our food security assistance, we can have a direct hand in turning the tide against mass hunger, malnutrition, disease, and mother and infant mortality. Thus, we help ensure that our brothers and sisters the world over can best reach their potential, leading fulfilled lives of health, vigor and dignity.

Read the full op-ed on Townhall here.

Excerpted and emphasis added.