The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a bill this week to increase effort and investment in international agricultural research and development.
If enacted into law, the Global Food Security Act (S. 384), known informally as the Lugar-Casey bill, would focus largely on the agricultural research and development side of food security within the purview of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The bill would authorize $500 million for a new emergency food assistance fund administered by USAID, though bill authors have made clear this is not meant to substitute for other food assistance efforts, such as the PL480 program administered by USDA. The bill would also create a global food “czar” position at the White House to coordinate food and agricultural development aid.
Of special interest to NAWG is a provision that would authorize $50 million in funding for the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Among the CGIAR centers are institutions like CIMMYT and ICARDA that conduct wheat research and have been the first line of detection and defense against Ug99 and other dangerous pathogens. Funding for the CGIAR centers would still need to be appropriated by Congress if the bill passes, but the expanded authorization would be very helpful in getting needed resources to these institutions.
D.C.-publication CQ reported Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the bill’s sponsor, as saying that rising populations and an expanding middle class in countries such as China and India will create a need for farmers to double their food output by 2050. At the same time, the share of U.S. development spending devoted to agriculture dropped from 25 percent in 1980 to 1 percent in 2003.
For more information, please visit http://lugar.senate.gov/food/legislation/