A diverse crowd gathered virtually Sept. 17 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Feed the Future, a U.S. Agency for International Development initiative to tackle global hunger and food insecurity.
Hosting the anniversary event was Texas A&M AgriLife, home to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation.
“This is a milestone year for Feed the Future, as we turn 10,” said Jim Barnhart, deputy coordinator of Feed the Future and assistant to the administrator in the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. “Research and innovation are one of Feed the Future’s hallmarks. They not only bring us together to end global hunger but also drive innovation back here at home.”
Feed the Future Innovation Labs at top U.S. universities have developed and deployed more than a thousand innovations around the globe. Working directly with partner countries, the initiative has lifted more than 23 million people from poverty. Feed the Future has also ensured that more than 5 million families are no longer suffering from hunger.
“As we commemorate these past 10 years, we know that the Innovation Labs have been able to address many global challenges because of the support of congressional members from across the country,” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of AgriLife Research.
Texas work toward Feed the Future
“I would like to say thank you to Texas members who have supported these efforts through the years,” Stover said. “There are many to name, among them Congresswoman Kay Granger, Congressman Henry Cuellar and Congressman Michael McCaul. Their leadership and support, and that of many others, are greatly appreciated.”
At Texas A&M, the Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation is part of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. The lab has worked since 2013 to expand sustainable irrigation use, support inclusive agricultural growth and resilient food systems, and conduct training programs in several countries in Africa.
Texas A&M is also involved in the Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet. That lab is headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.
Congressional speakers applaud Feed the Future effort
Among the speakers was U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees USAID. Now in his eighth term, McCaul represents nine counties stretching from Austin to Houston.
“The number of people facing severe food insecurity could double in 2020 to almost 265 million people around the world,” McCaul said, in a recorded video. “And as the world grapples with the economic, political and societal impacts of COVID-19, I believe that the work of the Feed the Future Innovation Labs is even more crucial.”
Another speaker was U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, representing Washington State’s fourth district. A third-generation farmer, he served as director of Washington State Department of Agriculture in 2009-2013.
“The United States and the Feed the Future Innovation Labs play a vital role in helping our fellow nations build resilient agricultural industries that strengthen our global food supply,” Newhouse said.
New labs announced; awards presented to Reps. Granger, Lowey
Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator of USAID, announced two new Feed the Future Innovation Labs at Washington State University and Cornell University. In addition, Innovation Labs at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida are expanding their work.
She also presented the Feed the Future Champion Award to two congresswomen: U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, now in her 12th term serving Texas’ 12th district, and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, now in her 16th term serving New York’s 17th district.
“Rep. Nita Lowey is a dedicated champion of human rights and the role of women in global development. She is in the final months of a historic career in Congress, spanning more than three decades. Her influence will be felt for generations to come,” Glick said.
And, “Rep. Kay Granger is no stranger to foreign assistance,” Glick said. “USAID has recognized her in the past for her leadership in the global fight against tuberculosis as well as in the global fight against malaria. She is a formidable voice for the vulnerable.”
In a recorded video, Granger thanked Feed the Future for the award and reiterated her commitment to the initiative.
“Mrs. Lowey and I have worked on this Feed the Future Initiative since the early days,” Granger said. “We both agree that when it comes to foreign aid, we must ensure that our investments are not only helping solve the immediate problem but they’re creating long-term results. That’s exactly what Feed the Future does. And that’s why we’re so proud to join my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, in supporting it.”
Stover offered an additional thanks for Granger’s work.
“Congresswoman Granger is a beacon of leadership for our state and nation, and she certainly deserves this recognition,” Stover said. “Her work as subcommittee chair of State and Foreign Operations in the early days of Feed the Future set this program on a path for success, and she has seen it through in her current role as ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations. She is a true supporter of Texas A&M and our global agriculture research programs that empower small-scale farmers, increase nutrition and build resiliency.”
‘Take it to the farm. Take it to the public.’
Julie Borlaug, vice president of external relations at Inari and granddaughter to Norman Borlaug, provided concluding remarks for the celebration.
“My grandfather’s last words were, ‘Take it to the farm. Our innovations, our research is only good when we can get it to the people and to the farmers,’” Borlaug said. “I would also like to add, ‘Take it to the public.’ Our Congress supports USAID, and our public doesn’t often understand why the support is so important. It’s a very small percentage of our budget but a very important percentage that must continue and must increase.”
To read more about the work of Feed the Future Innovation Labs, see the Feed the Future 2020 progress report.