Clear Leadership Needed for U.S. Hunger Program: Faith Leader

The United States' new initiative for global food security is well designed but lacks clear leadership, the leader of one anti-poverty group said last week.

The "Feed the Future" initiative, which was launched last Thursday, outlines a major shift in the U.S.'s strategy for combating world hunger, moving the country from a plan built mostly on providing food aid to a multi-billion dollar investment scheme for developing global agriculture.

The program plans to assist some 40 million people in 20 countries over the next decade in developing self-sustaining agriculture. The U.S. plans to put $3.5 billion into the program over the next three years as a part of the international community's pledge of $22 billion.

Bread for the World President the Rev. David Beckmann called the new program "well designed," noting that it promotes a "coordinated international response to local needs," but added that clear leadership must be established in order for the initiative to start developing.

"[T]o get the program moving, they need to be clear about who is in charge," Beckmann said. "USAID is our main agency for international development, and the head of USAID should be given unambiguous authority to drive this urgent initiative."

Beckmann also urged Congress to approve President Obama's international affairs budget request of $58.5 billion. Last month, a resolution from the Senate Budget Committee moved to decrease Obama's proposed budget by $4 billion.

"President Obama has convinced other countries to provide most of the needed funding for this initiative, but Congress must do its part to maintain U.S. leadership of this international effort to open opportunity to poor farmers and reduce world hunger," Beckmann said.

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