For Immediate Release
Bread for the World Urges Congress to Pass Global Food Security Act, Reform Foreign Assistance
WASHINGTON - Testifying before the members of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee today at a hearing on global food security, Bread for the
World President Rev. David Beckmann urged Congress to move forward on
broad reform of the current U.S. foreign assistance system. "We hope
Congress will pull several aid agencies together into one accountable
agency, focus it clearly on development and poverty reduction, and
allow it to be responsive to local needs and priorities," he said.
"That would make room for substantially more funding for agricultural
development and lead to better ongoing coordination across the
government on hunger and other development issues."
He described the current act, first implemented in 1961 under
President Kennedy, as woefully outdated, inefficient, and ill-equipped
to provide the level of relief needed to address hunger and poverty in
today's more populous, complex world. "U.S. foreign assistance does
great work and has helped millions of poor farmers around the globe to
feed their families," he said, "but if we make it more efficient, it
can do so much more with the funding currently in place."
On a recent trip to Mozambique and Malawi, Rev. Beckmann saw
firsthand how U.S. foreign assistance helps African farmers. "The
farmers I visited in Malawi benefit from extension services, improved
varieties, and rural roads, while those across the lake in Mozambique
have none of that -- and they are much poorer," he said. "However, I
was heartened to see U.S. assistance at work even in far-off Mtimbe, a
tiny farming village of about 40 mud homes where the great majority of
the kids are in school, partly because of debt relief. I met people
who had been at death's door, but are now farming and taking care of
their children because of AIDS medication that our government funds."
During his visit, Rev. Beckmann also noted that the United States
does less than it should to support agriculture in Malawi and
Mozambique. "We aren't very responsive to local needs and priorities,
because our aid programs are heavily earmarked here in Washington," he
said. "In Mozambique, USAID, PEPFAR, and the MCA are each doing their
own thing. Better coordination of these innovative agencies and
programs would make them more effective, and deliver results greater
than the sum of the parts."
Because of high grain prices and the global recession, almost a
billion of the world's people are now hungry, according to Rev.
Beckmann. "Given our own economic problems, we need to make our
foreign assistance as cost-effective as possible and focus more of the
aid on reducing hunger and poverty."
Rev. Beckmann also urged Congress to pass the Global Food Security
Act, saying it would reinvigorate world agricultural development and
make U.S. emergency food assistance more efficient: "The Global Food
Security Act calls for a much-needed integrated global food security
strategy; I am grateful to Sens. Lugar and Casey for reintroducing this
Among his recommendations, Rev. Beckmann said the U.S. should invest
as much in agricultural development as in food aid, aim to purchase
half of food aid locally, and focus nutrition programs on the most
vulnerable groups, such as small children, their mothers, and people
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