President Barack Obama has signed into law the Global Food Security Act, which aims to help end global hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Co-operatives are mentioned in the act as key stakeholders engaged in efforts to advance global food security programs and objectives.
The signing into law took place during the White House Summit on Global Development last month. “Development is not charity, it is one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future,” said Mr Obama during the summit.
With the adoption of the Act, the Obama Administration has authorised more than USD $7bn for international food programmes and initiatives such as Feed the Future. The strategy focuses on increasing sustainable and equitable agricultural development, reducing global hunger and improving nutrition.
The act encourages leveraging resources and expertise through “partnerships with the private sector, farm organisations, co-operatives, civil society, faith-based organisations, and agricultural research and academic institutions”.
The White House estimates that last year the Feed the Future programme has helped more than nine million farmers and other agricultural producers adopt innovations and best practices to build their businesses and face the challenges posed by climate change.
The President also signed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, which was introduced in October 2015. This bill requires USA government agencies to closely monitor and evaluate all foreign aid programmes based on their outcomes and improve transparency by publicly sharing the data about the results of the programmes partially through the foreignassistance.gov portal.
Co-ops were represented at the Summit by Amy Coughenour Betancourt, chief operating officer of the National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA).
Referring to the Act, she said: “The whole of government approach speaks to the priority this act has for tackling nutrition and food security issues,” said Ms Coughenour Betancourt. “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.”
NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, Alan Knapp, has worked with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Bob Casey, for two years to include co-operatives in the language of the Act.
Also commenting on the adoption of the act, National Security Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice, wrote an article highlighting that development had become an important pillar of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. “As National Security Advisor, I’ve always considered food security to be not only a security imperative but also a moral imperative,” she said.