By Patricia Kisare
The U.S. farm bill was up for reauthorization in 2012. The farm bill is the main instrument in which the government outlines its 5-year food and agriculture policies, including those affecting global food programs. Although the U.S. is the world’s largest donor of food aid to low-income countries, the way in which it manages this aid often benefits agribusinesses and indirectly harms small-scale farmers and local communities. For instance, shipping food from the U.S. instead of buying locally or regionally takes away the market base of local small-scale farmers.
Throughout the year MCC Washington Office staff met with policymakers to ensure the farm bill addresses the needs of small-scale farmers and local communities. Unfortunately, Congress failed to pass a new five-year farm bill before the last one expired. Instead, Congress extended the 2008 farm bill for nine months as part of the tax deal on January 1. If Congress takes up a farm bill this coming fall, as is likely, we will continue to work with key policymakers to ensure that it upholds just principles for global food and hunger.
In May President Obama announced the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition,” a $3 billion public-private investment initiative to end hunger in Africa. We will continue to pressure the administration to ensure that public-private partnerships complement, not substitute for, public investments in agriculture, and to urge the administration to address issues related to access to food, nutritional adequacy and sustainability.