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Kingston: Food aid, development advocates need to broaden their campaigns

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said Tuesday that the appropriation for the P.L. 480 Food for Peace Title II program is likely to move closer to the higher Senate proposal for fiscal year 2013.

But he urged food aid and development advocates to broaden their constituency to include freshmen members of Congress, to point out the value of genetic modification, and to be wary of sending food and development aid to countries that do not vote with the United States at the United Nations.

At a Capitol Hill event organized by food aid and development advocates, Kingston noted that the House Agriculture appropriations bill includes $1.149 billion for P.L. 480 and $180 million for the McGovern-Dole school feeding program, and that the Senate appropriations bill provides $1.47 billion for P.L. 480 and $184 million for McGovern-Dole.

But even though Congress seems headed to provide about the same amount of money for food aid and agricultural development assistance as last year, Kingston told the advocates, “You need to engage people more.” He noted that development advocates say food security is a matter of national security, but “military people don’t say that.”

Some development advocates are opposed to genetic modification of seeds and others are silent on it, but Kingston urged the advocates to reconsider the issue because it can lead to increases in agricultural productivity.

Kingston also said nongovernmental organizations need to “self-police” their advocacy for countries that vote against the United States at the United Nations. A U.N. voting record is not “ a full test” of a country’s policies, he said, but it is a “quick check” for many voters.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told the same group they should not be “a cheap date” in terms of accepting the cuts to these programs that House Republicans have proposed.

Kingston and McGovern spoke at an event at which 11 groups that fight world hunger praised the changes that the Obama administration has made in food aid and development policy and called for additional changes.

The group has just published a report "Roadmap to End Hunger," outlining U.S. investments it says are needed for emergency programs, safety nets, nutrition and agricultural development.