As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes, Inc. is keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill as discussions heat up over the Farm Bill. We’ve begun educating new members of Congress on the importance of farm programs. And for the past few months, we’ve brought you a summary of the titles that have the most impact on our business, what we’re doing to influence and most importantly, what you can do to advocate.
Part one of the series gave the history of the Farm Bill and summarized the Commodity title (Title 1) and the Crop Insurance title (Title 11). Part two of the series focused on the Conservation title (Title 2). In part three of the series, we highlighted the Nutrition title (Title 4). Now, we’re taking a look at Title 3 of the bill which covers international food aid programs.
International food aid and the Farm Bill
Since the mid-1950s, the Farm Bill has included mandates for international food aid. The food and agricultural assistance provided through the Farm Bill accounts for less than 1 percent of the total Farm Bill funds. But the programs the bill funds have had an enormous impact worldwide to help feed hungry populations, promote sound agricultural practices and strengthen economies.
These resources are spread across a group of programs with broad goals and focus areas. “Feeding Human Progress,” is Land O’Lakes’ purpose, so keeping these international aid programs is a key priority for us in the 2018 Farm Bill. Food security not only promotes national security, it helps build stability in developing nations that could one day provide economic opportunities for American businesses.
We also support these programs because of the important work they accomplish in building stability and economic growth around the world. Land O’Lakes International Development, a nonprofit affiliated with Land O’Lakes, Inc. is a key partner for USAID and USDA in implementing these critical programs. Since 1981, this organization has implemented nearly 200 projects with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Agency for International Development.
Here are some examples of Land O’Lakes International Development’s successes in implementing projects through the Farm Bill funding.
Food for Progress
The Food for Progress program was initiated in the 1985 Farm Bill. Administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Food for Progress helps modernize and strengthen agricultural sectors in developing countries and emerging economies. These projects have two principle objectives: to improve agricultural productivity and to expand trade of agricultural products.
Through a Food for Progress project in Malawi, Land O’Lakes International Development partnered with the private sector in working with 68,091 farmers to increase production of cassava, rice and small livestock value chains. Farmers, particularly female farmers, learned about best production practices and improved technologies, and the importance of maintaining a diverse diet and safe hygiene practices.
First funded in 1985 (although created in 1966), the Farmer-to-Farmer program promotes sustainable economic growth, food security and agricultural development worldwide. Volunteer technical assistance from U.S. farms, universities, cooperatives, ag businesses and nonprofits helps countries improve productivity, access new markets, build local capacity and conserve environmental resources.
Since 1987, Land O’Lakes International Development has sent more than 1,300 volunteers – including almost 150 Land O’Lakes members and employees – to 27 countries for Farmer-to-Farmer projects. International Development is currently managing a five-year program in Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco to advance food safety and increase access to rural finance, while promoting environmental sustainability.
Local and Regional Procurement Projects
With funding from the USDA, Local and Regional Procurement are food assistance projects that source food and commodities locally in areas affected by disaster and food crises. Although the program wasn’t funded in the last Farm Bill, Land O’Lakes International Development has had great success with an LRP project in the past.
From 2010 through 2012, Land O’Lakes International Development worked with two companies in Bangladesh to use locally and regionally sourced whole grains and vitamin premix to make fortified cereal bars.
Long after that project closed, the impact of Land O’Lakes International Development’s LRP project is still being felt. Millions of the nutritious bars have been produced since the pilot, feeding 100,000 children in 441 schools in the impoverished district of Jamalpur. By sourcing and making the bars locally through LRP, they could be delivered twice as fast and for half the cost of bars made from imported food aid, and the growing production has provided income to more than 20,000 local farmers.
Looking ahead to 2018
Given Land O’Lakes International Development’s successes implementing programs funded by the Farm Bill, and Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s stated purpose of Feeding Human Progress, we see the international agricultural development provisions in the bill as vital.
The administration proposed eliminating funding for two major aid programs in the Farm Bill in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget but many in Congress have rallied to support them. We believe the bill’s foreign food aid and development programs improve national security and build a stronger and more stable world economy that is good for farmers around the world, including here at home.
As Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) noted during a U.S. House Agriculture Committee hearing discussing international food aid, “It is worth pointing out that 11 of our top 15 trading partners in 2017 were once recipients of U.S. assistance.”
Today, the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Government Relations team is working to educate policymakers on our stance on these important issues, but you can get involved, too. Call, email or meet with your members of Congress to let them know why the Farm Bill matters to you.
Interested in learning more about the Farm Bill? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.