In my attempt to do more than just show you pretty pictures of food and talk superficially about something to do with that food, I'd like to try to diversify my topics. Having a passion for something isn't just about enjoying it as a hobby, it's also about trying to support and maintain conditions that are ideal for pursuing your hobby.
For example, ideally hunters should be concerned with conservation and environmental preservation, since without thriving wilderness and healthy animal populations, they would not be able to hunt. Wine lovers should be concerned about global warming, since changes to the climate mess with a region's ability to produce wine. Sports fans should be concerned about integrity within the professional sporting world, as corruption tends to inhibit the spirit of competition that makes sports so enjoyable.
And food lovers? Food lovers should be concerned with food politics as well. Not only should we be concerned with sustainable, responsible food production and food safety, we should also be concerned with world hunger, because wouldn't we all enjoy our luxurious meals a little better knowing that people elsewhere are fed?
So in an attempt to keep myself and anyone who reads this informed, let me give a brief explanation of some current pending food legislation: HR 2795, or the "Roadmap to End Global Hunger and Promote Food Security Act of 2009." For convenience I will call it the Roadmap Act.
What the Act is based on: The Roadmap Act is based on several findings by the proponents of the bill, including:
1. The percentage of the world's population that is hungry has decreased from 37% to 17% in the last 40 years, and the U.S. has played a critical role in that.
2. While the percentage of hungry individuals has dropped, the actual number of hungry people has grown, with most hungry individuals in developing countries live in rural areas.
3. Many of the world's hungry individuals are children, and uneducated, and many of these children are dying of hunger. The children who survive are less productive, earn less, and are more likely to have malnourished children of their own.
4. The U.S. has decreased its support for agricultural development in recent years, as has the international community.
5. Food prices have been steadily increasing with a sharp rise between 2007 and 2008 due to decreasing supplies of staple grains and cereals; increased prices due to drought, flood, and global climate change; increased food and fuel consumption by middle-income countries; and greater cultivation for biofuels. Rice in particular rose sharply in price due to trade restrictions, panic buying, a weak dollar, and high oil prices. (Source: Dept. of Agriculture)
The Policy (What the Bill is intended to promote): The government's stated policy behind this bill is to reduce global hunger, advance nutrition, and increase food security. It aims to set up programs and policies to provide emergency response in times of disaster; increase the preparedness of populations so that less intervention is needed in the event of a disaster; aid people and governments in the goal of sustainably feeding themselves; help mothers and children meet their nutritional needs; support small-scale farmers; and encourage sustainable and environmentally sound agricultural practices.
What the Bill Does: The bill does two things. It (1) established a White House Office on Global Hunger and Food Security; and (2) establishes a Permanent Joint Select Committee on Hunger. So what will these two entities do?
White House Office on Global Hunger and Food Security: The functions of this office are to:
(1) Provide the President with advice on hunger and food security issues;
(2) Make sure that reducing hunger and increasing food security remain priorities of the federal government, including working with the various departments to make sure it is a priority within these departments;
(3) Develop a comprehensive strategy for the government to address hunger and food security issues;
(4) Assess the government's current programs for dealing with hunger and food security issues;
(5) Prepare and annual report on expenditures in this area, as well as a suggested budget, and then make sure the programs receive adequate funding;
(6) Establish indicators that can be used to measure the success of programs in this area and provide quarterly reports on the progress of each program;
(7) Coordinate efforts with other governments and international groups;
(8) Consult with experts on the development, implementation, and assessment of the programs established to address these issues;
(9) Promote public awareness of these issues; and
(10) Submit an annual report to congress and the President on the overall progress made toward the goal of cutting world hunger in half by 2015.
COST: $10,000,000 each year for the next four fiscal years is authorized to be appropriated for this office.
Permanent Joint Select Committee on Hunger: This committee is to be made up of eight House members and eight senate members. Its duties are:
(1) Hold hearings, investigate, issue reports and analyses, and make recommendations to Congress on issues related to hunger, nutrition, food security, agricultural development, emergency response, and other global hunger and food security issues.
(2) Examine issues relevant to the creation of a government plan to address global hunger and food security issues.
Funding will come from the House and Senate accounts.
TOTAL COST: The bill asks for funds of $50,360,000,000 for 2010-2014.
If you want to learn more, or want to ask your Congressperson to co-sponsor this bill, you can go to Friends of the World Food Program. They have additional information and materials on this bill, as well as tools to help you approach your representative.
|Monday, June 15, 2009|