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Five things you need to know about the 2023 Farm Bill

A mother of four in northeastern Ethiopia prepares food for her children. Photo: Terhas Berhe/CARE

A mother of four in northeastern Ethiopia prepares food for her children. Photo: Terhas Berhe/CARE

What is the “Farm Bill,” and why does it matter?

The piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill” affects not only American agriculture but also global food security, trade, and development.

Even if you’re not a policy wonk, it’s crucial to understand a few key aspects of the bill if you want to help fight global hunger and eliminate poverty worldwide.

1. What is the Farm Bill?

In Tanzania, nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line. Stunting – a sign of chronic malnutrition – affects more than one third of children under five years of age. Photo: Timothy Buckley/CARE

Every five years, the U.S. Congress must reauthorize legislation to fund and implement food aid programs in the United States and around the world.

This legislation is known as the “Farm Bill,” and the current one expires on September 30.

2. Why does the Farm Bill matter?

Food distribution in Zimbabwe. Photo: CARE

The scale of the current hunger and malnutrition crisis is enormous, and it’s getting worse. 345.2 million people are projected to be severely food insecure in 2023 — more than double the number from 2020.

If Congress doesn’t pass and strengthen the Farm Bill before September 30, then the food crisis, which has already left an estimated 735 million people globally without enough food to eat, will worsen.

The people in these communities — in places like Niger, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Timor-Leste — have seen their food systems eroded by compounding shocks like conflict, climate change, and COVID.

Passing this bill will help people in crisis at a crucial time — before things get worse. It will also help communities build resilience so that they can better respond to future crises and shocks on their own without global intervention.

3. What does CARE do to help pass the Farm Bill?

Onolina is a 42-year-old woman married to Omary Mbugi and they have five children together. They both work as farmers in Igunda village, Iringa, Tanzania, cultivating soya beans, maize, potatoes and tomatoes. Photo: Vanessa Mwingira/CARE

CARE’s work centers on priority programs like Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education. Every dollar invested in these resilience building programs saves $3 in humanitarian assistance when disaster strikes.

CARE and its advocates have been meeting with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and in their home offices around the country, advocating for greater efficiency and effectiveness in programs like these. They are crucial to helping address the root causes of food insecurity region by region and to build resilience in affected communities – so when the effects of the climate crisis, conflicts, or pandemics hit, local communities will have the tools they need to lead in the recovery efforts.

4. How does the Farm Bill help women and girls?

Children collecting water in South Gondar, Ethiopia. Photo: Josh Estey/CARE

After decades of progress, global hunger is on the rise, and CARE’s research has shown that gender inequality and food insecurity are linked. 84.2 million more women were hungry than men in 2022, and despite women being responsible for 90% of preparing and buying food, they are eating last and least in times of crisis.

If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, potentially reducing the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million.

If the Farm Bill doesn’t take gender inequality into account, then we won’t be able to solve the hunger crisis. That’s why CARE and its advocates work to ensure gender equity is elevated in Farm Bill advocacy, including ensuring that women-led businesses are prioritized in program design.

For example, the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program provides school meals to children in low-income countries, which is a powerful incentive for parents to send girls to school and ensure they receive an education and other opportunities.

5. What can I do to help the Farm Bill?

In Zimbabwe, CARE and its partners work to increase the capacities of communities to sustain development gains and achieve improved well-being outcomes in the face of shocks and stresses. Photo: Pauline Hurungudo/CARE

The Farm Bill gives advocates an opportunity to help shape policies that prioritize food security, sustainability, equity, and resilience. By taking action now at this crucial time, you can help CARE contribute to more just and sustainable food systems around the world that will benefit everyone.

Tell Congress: We need action now to end global hunger.

Sign and share the petition at care.org/endhunger.

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