Skip to content

Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Global Food Security

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing on global food security. Witnesses included Ms. Dina Esposito, assistant to the administrator at the Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security of the United States Agency for International Development, and Dr. Cary Fowler, special envoy for global food security to the State Department.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for those kind remarks. I too would want to recognize the good work that Senator Coons is doing in this area.

“Our last hearing on global food security was in July 2022 – five months after Putin began his brutal war against Ukraine and attempted to starve the world into submission.

“Despite strong efforts to combat this, the overall state of global food insecurity has not improved. 783 million people around the globe suffer from food shortage. 333 million people are facing acute food insecurity. An estimated 47 million people are on the brink of famine. These are not just statistics. They are actual people.

“Congress appropriates billions of dollars annually to respond to emergencies through life saving programs, including Food for Peace and the Emergency Food Security Program.

“This money also supports initiatives to help communities grow their own way out of poverty and become more resilient to food shocks, like Russia’s war in Ukraine, price spikes, COVID, earthquakes, and hurricanes. These are important programs that we are currently operating.

“Unfortunately, we spend too much time fighting to resource these programs, and too little time on maximizing their impact. For example, after nearly 70 years of Food for Peace, we still can’t decide its principal purpose. Is it to feed hungry people, or to ensure the one U.S. company operating the three bulk carriers available for U.S. food aid deliveries has a big enough subsidy?

“The inability – or unwillingness – to resolve this leads to higher costs and lower impact. It also drives well-intentioned advocates to push new legislative ideas – or ‘work arounds’ – that only add more layers of bureaucracy and undermine efficiency.


“Let’s be clear: Congress will never appropriate its way out of the current global food security crisis. We need to do better with what we’ve got.

“Countries receiving aid must do more to address the drivers of food insecurity within their own borders. This includes resolving conflicts, governing justly, combatting corruption, and removing the barriers that impede economic growth and trade.

“Humanitarian groups also need to do their part and they need to improve targeting and oversight so they can ensure aid is getting where it is needed. They must do more to protect aid from being diverted by armed groups, criminals, governments, or the implementers themselves.

“Wide-scale adoption of technology that can improve targeting and verification – including biometrics – is long-overdue.

“On the development side, we need to work more closely with the private sector to bring innovations to scale. I recently saw an Idaho-based company, Semilla Nueva, won a USAID grant to enhance the quality and adoption of bio-fortified maize in Latin America. We should see more of this type of collaboration.

“I’d like to hear from our witnesses how they intend to make partnering with the U.S. government easier, so we can more effectively leverage the ingenuity of U.S. farmers and agricultural experts. We’ve got the best food producers in the world and we’ve got the tools. Let’s use them to our full advantage.

“The challenges are immense but the imperative is clear: the United States can and must lead the way in promoting global food security. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can do that more efficiently and effectively.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on