Vilsack announces additional food aid
By Doug Rich
During a stop in Kansas City, Mo., April 7, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced additional funding for USDA's McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program for fiscal year 2009. Vilsack was a featured speaker at the International Food Aid Conference being held in Kansas City, Mo.
An additional 51,700 tons of agricultural commodities valued at nearly $80 million will be provided to children in low-income, food-deficit countries. This is in addition to $95.5 million allocated for fiscal year 2009 for the McGovern-Dole Program that was announced in December 2008.
"No child in the world should go to bed hungry; and this additional funding will help remedy the very sad reality that, across the globe, every night many do," Vilsack said.
This additional aid will benefit children, women and schools in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Uganda. This allocation, along with the one announced in December, will feed nearly 4.2 million children in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
In his remarks at the International Food Aid Conference, Vilsack said the U.S. remains the world's largest food aid supplier. This is made possible through the U.S. agricultural community, the work of our key partners, and a longstanding federal commitment to sharing America's bounty with those less fortunate,Vilsack said.
Vilsack said that President Obama will ask Congress to double U.S. financial support for agricultural development in poor countries to $1 billion in 2010. President Obama made this announcement while he was in London meeting with leaders of the Group of Twenty.
Vilsack will be attending the Group of Eight (G8) Agricultural Ministerial in Trevisto, Italy, April 18 to 20. The G8 Agricultural Ministerial, comprised of top agriculture leaders from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Russia, is one of nine separately planned ministerial level meetings delineated by function, including agriculture, development, finance and labor.
"This is the first agriculture ministerial meeting of the G8 in its history," Vilsack said in a press conference following his remarks to the International Food Aid Conference. "The focus of our conversation will be on international food security and how the international community can respond during tough economic times."
Twice during the press conference Vilsack was asked questions about the food stamp program and additional funding from the stimulus program. Vilsack asked both reporters not to use the term "food stamps" in the future but to refer to it as nutritional assistance.
"We want to transition away from the terminology of food stamps because what this is, really, is SNAP which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," Vilsack said. "The emphasis is on nutritional assistance. That is the reason for the program."
Vilsack said this administration is committed to a food supply that is safe, sufficient, and nutritious for all Americans, and for people around the world.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.