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world food day

Market Match Means More Money, Healthful Food on the Table

(Note: Oct. 16 is World Food Day, when 150 countries around the world show their support of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s mission to raise awareness and help to end world hunger. The following article features one USDA-supported program that helps bring healthful food to low-income Americans.)

Secretary's Column: Family Farmers Do More Than Feed the World

Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack posted a guest column on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations blog in honor of World Food Day. The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming.” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.

The headlines today can often seem bleak: worries of terrorism, global health, climate change, drought and hunger dominate the news cycle. These are extraordinarily complex and challenging issues that will impact and forever transform the lives of future generations.

Solving them is not simply about military or economic might. While they are not always fully appreciated and recognized for their capacity to address these challenges, I believe the role that agriculture and family farmers can play is significant.

World Food Day’s Scientific “Call to Action”

On October 16, World Food Day, it is hard to not be struck by how lucky we are in the United States. We have abundant food that costs us less to produce, on a per unit basis, than almost any other country in the world. Our farmers and ranchers produce more than we need, allowing us to be a powerhouse in global exports. And our food supply is among the safest of all the world’s nations.

All that abundance and security has been underpinned by science and know-how.  Between the 1940s and the 1970s, agriculture science blossomed in what has become known as the Green Revolution. Thanks to the research done by Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution,” working with researchers around the world, developed high-yielding varieties and modern production practices that helped save untold numbers of people from starvation.

Our National Security Depends on Feeding a Growing World

Recently I was in Des Moines, Iowa, to participate in events leading up to World Food Day. This day is observed each October 16th in recognition of the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. The first World Food Day was held in 1981. Its purpose is to increase worldwide awareness and year-round action to alleviate hunger.

On October 10, I had the honor of speaking to a large group of people at Iowa State University about the importance of the world producing enough food to feed its growing population. This is not just a moral issue, or an economic issue, or an agricultural issue. It is an issue of national security.

When you consider the challenges we face today—925 million people around the world were undernourished last year—and those we foresee in 30 to 40 years—a world population growing by one-third to more than 9 billion that will require a 70-percent increase in food production—you understand why the United States and the international community must tackle this serious, long-term threat.