"We need to respond to the current climb in prices with immediate action while simultaneously deepening our commitment to long-term investments in agriculture and food security worldwide," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, meeting in Rome, where she discussed rising global food prices.
Secretary Clinton underscored the need for a coordinated effort among international partners to address food security and outlined the many ways that the United States is providing support.
International prices for staple foods such as corn and wheat surged to the highest level in more than two years this spring. According to the World Bank, some 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since June by rising food prices, and another 10 million may join them if prices increase another 10 percent. The consequences were mitigated somewhat by stable global rice prices and good harvests in vulnerable regions. The United States is urging the international community to take key steps to prevent future crises.
"We can’t keep falling back on providing emergency aid just to put the band-aid on to keep moving forward to try to mitigate the damage insofar as possible," said Secretary Clinton. "We must use a smart, strategic approach."
This includes "improving and sharing information about food production and stocks, abstaining from export bans no matter how attractive they may appear to be, using export quotas and taxes sparingly if at all, discouraging panic buying and hoarding, and implementing programs that deliver urgent assistance to people at greatest risk."
We must also deepen our commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security. That is the goal of our Feed the Future Initiative, said Secretary Clinton. The aim is to strengthen "the entire agricultural chain, from improving the quality of seeds, to connecting farmers to local markets, to connecting local markets to regional and global ones, to encouraging crop diversity and health education so people get the nutrition they need to thrive. . . . Through Feed the Future, we aim to lift incomes of 18 million vulnerable men, women, and children.
"If we do not act now to increase the opportunity for food security," said Secretary Clinton, "we may never catch up. Let’s move relentlessly ahead in advancing food security not only for more of the world's people, but a goal of all of the world's people."