JULY 2023 TOOLKIT
INCREASING FOOD SECURITY AND SAFEGUARDING NATIONAL SECURITY
In the words of Bob Marley, “A hungry mob is an angry mob.” Food insecurity can breed political instability that directly impacts our nation’s security.
Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences released a report in April 2023 entitled “Global Food Security is National Security,” which describes how global food security is related to U.S. national security. The report notes that the world is on the edge of a global hunger and malnutrition crisis with as many as 828 million people, or one in every 10 people on the planet, affected by hunger. This poses significant and numerous geopolitical threats to U.S. national security.
The report makes recommendations on how the U.S. can mitigate these risks by increasing investment in worldwide long-term agricultural development, especially in developing countries. This includes:
- Increasing investments in global food and nutrition security programs, research, and innovation.
- Encouraging more students and young scientists to focus their research and engagement on improving global food security.
- Supporting research into the effectiveness of different agricultural technologies and production systems under conflict dynamics in socio-politically fragile environments.
Closer to home, Americans have felt the impact of rising food costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war against the Ukraine, global disruptions to the food supply chain, inflation, and other factors. Food prices, which generally increased about 2% in prior years, increased about 11% from 2021 to 2022. According to the Consumer Price Index, food prices increased 7.7 percent from April 2022 to April 2023. Land-grant universities continue to work on long-term challenges including animal diseases that got more attention because of the spikes in the price of eggs after outbreaks of the Avian Flu.
In June 2023, Dr. Bernie Engel, the incoming Dean of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, provided witness testimony to Congress at the House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing entitled “A Review of Title VII: University Perspectives on Research and Extension Programs”. Dr. Engel commented on agriculture’s role in national security by maintaining the nation’s food supply during times of global crisis. “The recent global health crisis exposed significant risks to our country’s health, food, and ag resiliency. Land Grant Institutions play a critical role as conveners of partners, including federal agencies and private industry, to address this issue.”
Through research, education, and Extension, our land-grant universities are addressing these complex and multi-faceted challenges.
Sources: Sticker Shock at the Grocery Store? Inflation Wasn’t the Only Reason Food Prices Increased; USDA ERS Food Price Outlook, 2023; Purdue’s New Ag Dean Bernie Engel Testifies Before Congress to Seek Additional Funding for Ag Research
RESEARCH & EDUCATION
Land-grant universities are key partners with the U.S. government efforts to increase food security around the world. Examples include the Global Food Security Research Strategy and Feed the Future.
USDA and USAID announced the Global Food Security Research Strategy to fight hunger and build resilient food systems in October 2022. The strategy underpins the United States Government Global Food Security Strategy (2022-2026). When developing the strategy, USDA and USAID consulted with universities to identify where science and research data can best advance a broader food-security strategy. The research strategy focuses on three essential areas:
- Climate-smart agricultural innovations
- Improved nutrition through high-quality, affordable diets, and
- Genetic improvement of resilient crops and livestock
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The Feed the Future Innovation Labs are led by U.S. universities and are advancing novel solutions to tackle some of the greatest challenges in agriculture and food security.
More than 70 U.S. colleges and universities, including 22 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), are engaged in partnerships with the Labs. They are generating innovations that deliver benefits for food-insecure developing countries while strengthening U.S. food systems and agriculture.
Examples of Feed the Future Innovation Labs at land-grant universities include:
- Animal Health Washington State University
- Applied Wheat Genomics Kansas State University
- Crop Improvement Cornell University
- Current & Emerging Threats to Crops Penn State
- Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling Purdue University
- Food Security Policy Research, Capacity and Influence Michigan State University
- Fish Mississippi State University
- Genomics to Improve Poultry University of California, Davis
- Integrated Pest Management Virginia Tech
- Livestock Systems University of Florida
- Peanut University of Georgia
- Small-Scale Irrigation Texas A&M University
Through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), Cooperative Extension professionals are working to reduce food and nutrition insecurity. EFNEP is the nation’s first nutrition education program for low-income populations and remains at the forefront of nutrition education efforts to reduce nutrition insecurity of low-income families and youth today.
EFNEP, a Federal Extension program funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, operates through land-grant universities throughout the nation. Through education, the program supports participants’ efforts toward nutritional health and well-being. It combines hands-on learning, applied science, and program data to ensure program effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability.
Source: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and EFNEP 2022 National Impact Report
Examples from Land-grant Impacts
Land-grant Universities Improve Local Food Security
Food security impacts individuals, as well as the health of entire communities. Through creation of food pantries, community gardens, food drives, farmers markets and more, land-grant universities and local community initiatives collaborate to keep food on the table for many.
Improving Crops Key to Food Security
Research at land-grant institutions keeps the U.S. food production on the cutting edge when it comes to quality, nutrition, disease resistance and other factors that help keep our food system safe and contribute to national security.
1 in 10 people are affected by hunger across the world – and it’s more important than ever to invest in food and nutrition security research. Scientists like [NAME] help build a more resilient food system through [PROJECT].
Land-grant universities are empowering the next generation of change-makers in the field of global food security. In the [MAJOR(S)] program, students gain hands-on, practical experience through [courses, labs, undergrad research, internships, etc.].
The impacts of rising food costs and disruptions in the supply chain hit close to home. Cooperative Extension programs like EFNEP reduce food and nutrition insecurity for low-income populations in [STATE]: [LINK TO EXTENSION PROGRAM] @Ext100Years
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