The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the future of international food aid and agricultural development as a continuation of the committee’s series to examine all aspects of the next farm bill. Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and members of the committee heard from stakeholders on the critical assistance that these programs provide in terms of both global food security and U.S. national security. Following the hearing, Chairman Conaway made the below remarks:
“Americans are big-hearted people and eliminating food aid programs goes against our country’s longstanding philanthropic commitment. For the past 60 years, U.S. foreign assistance has benefitted millions around the world in the form of rice, wheat, and other U.S.-grown commodities. Unlike cash-based assistance, sending commodities overseas through international food aid programs not only benefits recipients, but also contributes to jobs in the U.S. agricultural, manufacturing and maritime sectors – underscoring the role these programs play in an ‘America-first’ approach to helping others. I continue to believe there is an important place for these programs, and I appreciate the input from our witnesses today.”
Witnesses Panel I: Testimonies and discussion with the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture
- Mr. Ron Suppes, Wheat Producer, Dighton, KS, on behalf of U.S. Wheat Associates
- Ms. Margaret Schuler, Senior Vice President of the International Programs Group, World Vision – United States, Washington, DC
- Ms. Navyn Salem, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Edesia Nutrition, Kingstown, RI
- Mr. Brian W. Schoeneman, Political and Legislative Director, Seafarers International Union (AFL-CIO), Washington, DC, on behalf of USA Maritime
- Dr. Thomas S. Jayne (see picture), University Foundation Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, on behalf of the Farm Journal Foundation
Promoting US national interests through supporting agricultural development in Africa, by Thomas Jayne. (Jayne Written Testimony and Presentation Video of Dr. Jayne starting @43:00 or click on Presentation)
Jayne’s presentation focused on three points that explain why it is in the U.S.’ national interest to support agricultural development in African countries.
- First, the main source of growth in the world’s demand for food will be in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa’s food imports have risen seven fold over the past 15 years and continue to rise rapidly with this region’s rapid population growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to contain 24 percent of the world’s population by 2050. Income growth in Africa will further accelerate the region’s demand for U.S. food exports and support hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs at home as well as abroad. With 70 percent of the African population engaged in farming, the agricultural sector is the main entry point for improving livelihoods and encouraging the region’s transformation to a more diversified and prosperous economy.
- Secondly, agricultural development contributes to economic stability and peace. It is an important source of employment for African youth, when 65 percent of the population is under 25 years of age. Agricultural sector growth and gainful youth employment is one of the most effective ways to avert recruitment of youth into extremist groups.
- Thirdly, U.S. development assistance projects “soft power.” It generates good will and influence at all levels. It’s a strategy increasingly employed by China, which educates over 1,000 Africans per year in Mandarin, offers them advanced degree training in China, and supports their integration into influential private and public sector positions in their home countries.
Jayne stated that U.S. efforts have improved African countries’ economies, but much more should be done to develop local agricultural institutions. He reminded the committee of how U.S. agriculture benefited from its own homegrown agricultural institutions, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Systems and land-grant universities. Africa needs similar institutions in their own countries.
For all of these reasons, it’s in the best interest of the U.S. to further support agricultural development in Africa.
See also Jayne’s article in The Conversation (February 1, 2017): “Why the U.S. Has a lot to Gain From Investing in Africa’s Agri-food Systems.” and Recent Research and Policy Presentations of Thomas S. Jayne Michigan State University
“Agricultural research has been essential to U.S. gains in productivity over the past century. With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, U.S. production agriculture will continue to be asked to produce more with fewer resources and the best way to do that will be through strategic investments in agricultural research. I look forward to hearing from university leaders about the opportunities and challenges they face in ensuring American agriculture remains a world leader in cutting-edge technology and research.”Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway
Witnesses: Panel I: University Agricultural Research
- Mr. Robert Duncan, Chancellor, Texas Tech University System, Lubbock, TX
- Dr. Jacqueline Burns, Dean for Research and Director, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL
- Dr. Glenda Humiston, Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Oakland, CA
- Dr. Walter H. Hill, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences and Vice Provost for Land-Grant Affairs, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
- Dr. Steven H. Tallant, President, Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Kingsville, TX
- Ms. Carrie L. Billy, President and CEO, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Alexandria, VA
Video: Watch Live
This post was originally published at PAEPARD and has been republished with permission.