Sec. Vilsack & Admin. Shah outline changes in agricultural development policy

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 16 – After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the winners of the 2010 World Food Prize and promised more agricultural research funding, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained the administration’s new approach to international aid.

Addressing a packed Ben Franklin room at the State Department Wednesday, Vilsack said that in the past, “our food assistance programs were primarily designed to share our bounty in terms of overall food assistance.” What's changed, he said, is that “With Secretary Clinton’s leadership, she suggested that we needed to be less fearful of sharing our knowledge and our experience and our technology so that others could be self-sufficient. Why? Because when they become self-sufficient, then they become capable of trading. And when they become capable of trading, they become capable of developing relationships. And when those relationships are developed, they become capable of becoming friends and the world becomes a safer and better place for all of us to live.” 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack flanked by 
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 
at the 2010 World Food Prize announcement at the State Department. Photo: Agri-Pulse.
Vilsack said that with the administration's new Feed the Future initiative and the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Institute, linking USDA's agricultural research expertise with USAID's international skills, “we see the opportunity here to leverage the resources and expertise of USDA with the extraordinary leadership and development of USAID.” He said the aim is to “remove the barriers and the silos and the bureaucratic barriers that exist to sharing information and knowledge amongst ourselves so we are in a position to more effectively share it with the rest of the world.”

Referring to green-revolution-creator Dr. Norman Borlaug who founded the World Food Prize, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said that “Dr. Borlaug created this award, of course, and in it hoped to instill a central point that he repeated perhaps to everyone in this room and certainly every one of us that had the chance to spend time with him, and that is that it really takes only one thing to end hunger, and that is tremendous and consistent political will.”

Dr. Shah acknowledged the immense challenge of dealing with a growing world population which already includes more than one billion people struggling with chronic hunger. But he said that thanks to the leadership of Sec. Clinton and Sec. Vilsack, “we actually have, for the first time in a long time, the political will at the highest levels of government to win the fight against hunger.”

To win the fight, he said the administration is focusing on “making agricultural technologies accessible to some of the smallest and most vulnerable production communities in the world.”

In their remarks, Shah, Vilsack and Clinton all paid tribute to the late Dr. Borlaug. Clinton noted in particular that after receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, Dr. Borlaug urged a concerted effort to combat world hunger, commenting that “World peace will not be built on empty stomachs or human misery. It is within America’s technical and financial power to help end this human tragedy and injustice, if we set our hearts and minds to this task.”

For coverage of Secretary of State Clinton's other remarks at the Wood Food Prize announcement, go to:

For coverage of the Feed the Future initiative announced May 20, go to:

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