RFF Food Security Initiative
Current Project -- U.S. Policies and Programs
- Implementation of the U.S. Action Plan for Food Security
Resources for the Future (RFF) issued a report in September 2001 analyzing shortcomings and recommending improvements in how the United States is implementing its commitment to the United Nations goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015. The study focused on how the U.S. effort is affected by organizational and management issues within the government. It was timed to coincide with U.S. preparations for the Food and Agriculture Organization's World Food Summit Five Years Later meeting, originally scheduled for November, but postponed to June 2002. RFF is currently engaged in extensive distribution of the report and outreach to policymakers and the public.
Desired Project Outcome: Motivate U.S. food security policymakers to confront and solve the management and policy problems that are impeding the U.S. food security effort.
- Improving the Political Economy and Structure of the U.S. Food Security Program
The U.S. food security program for developing countries is poorly funded and tilted, from a policy and resource perspective, toward the export of surplus U.S. commodities rather than investment in building successful, sustainable food systems in developing countries. This is a consequence of underlying political reality and a patchwork policymaking structure in which executive branch agencies devoted to sometimes competing goals - in agriculture and trade, national security policy and foreign assistance, and domestic and foreign spending - vie for primacy. Understanding how this political process works and how it might be reconfigured to produce a more productive food security agenda is essential to achieving needed reform. This requires a two-phase project. The first involves retrospective analysis of what has happened over the last decade, involving senior officials from the Clinton administration, Congressional leaders, and aid experts, to understand the political drivers on food security and describe the strengths and weaknesses of how food security-related policies have been formed. The second phase will involve a series of studies, workshops, and other collaborative efforts to develop recommendations regarding both policy process and agenda for improving the U.S. contribution to global food security.
Desired Project Outcome: A politically actionable agenda for improving the U.S. food security program, one that bridges good policy and practical politics.
- The Patent System's Impact on Developing Country Access to Biotechnology
The patent system rewards investment in agricultural biotechnology, but presents obstacles to developing country access to the technology. Working with other experts and stakeholders, RFF is analyzing the current workings of the U.S. patent system and its impact on developing country access to biotechnology. The study will identify and evaluate policy options that would help ensure fair and timely access for the development of applications specific to the problems of farmers in developing countries.
Desired Project Outcome: A well-informed policy debate among stakeholders and legislators about possible changes in the U.S. patent system and encouragement of biotechnology patent holders to examine options for wider sharing of their technology.
- Impact of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agriculture Agreement Negotiations on Developing Countries - The new round of negotiations to revise the WTO Agreement on Agriculture could significantly affect the prospects for success of food production and distribution systems in developing countries. RFF is closely monitoring the negotiations and analyzing the potential impacts of policy options under discussion, focusing on their implications for food security and the success of food systems in developing countries. In addition, RFF is examining the impact of domestic politics on the U.S. position in the negotiations.
Desired Project Outcome: Provide analysis developing countries can use to improve the outcome of the negotiations from their standpoint and expand understanding of how U.S. political forces affect food security outcomes.