FoodPolicy.US convened a broad-based panel of expert stakeholders at the DC campus of New York University to frame the critical debate around proposed reforms to U.S. international food aid.
The Honorable Dan Glickman, Former Secretary of Agriculture, moderated a panel discussion featuring Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute Shenggen Fan, President of the National Farmers Union Roger Johnson, and Executive Director of the Alliance for Global Food Security Ellen Levinson.
A video introduction to the program was provided by The Honorable Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The Honorable Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), offered closing remarks.
The President’s FY 2014 Budget proposes to reform the Food for Peace Program by authorizing USAID to purchase up to 45 percent of its food aid abroad and eliminating the monetization process through which many NGOs fund their development programs. Additionally, the “Food Aid Reform Act” (H.R. 1983) has proposed exempting food assistance from cargo preference as a means to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of programs while cutting costs.
Ertharin Cousin began her tenure as the twelfth Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme on 5 April 2012.
Cousin brings more than twenty-five years of national and international non-profit, government, and corporate leadership experience focusing on hunger, food, and resilience strategies. Cousin guides the World Food Programme in meeting urgent food needs while championing longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger.
As the leader of the world’s largest humanitarian organization with approximately 14,000 staff serving about 100 million beneficiaries in 75 countries across the world, she is an exceptional advocate for improving the lives of hungry people worldwide, and travels extensively to raise awareness of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition.
In 2009, Cousin was nominated and confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and head of the U.S. Mission in Rome.
Previously, Cousin served as White House Liaison to the State Department, during which time she was appointed to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Feeding America.
A native of Chicago, Cousin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Georgia Law School.
Dr. Fan joined IFPRI in 1995 as a research fellow, conducting extensive research on pro-poor development strategies in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He led IFPRI’s program on public investment before becoming the director of the Institute’s Development Strategy and Governance Division in 2005.
He is the Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food Security.
Dr. Fan received a PhD in applied economics from the University of Minnesota and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nanjing Agricultural University in China.
Dan Glickman is a BPC senior fellow, and he co-chairs its Commission on Political Reform, Democracy Project, Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative, and Task Force on Defense Budget and Strategy.
Glickman is the executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, a nongovernmental, nonpartisan educational program for members of the United States Congress. Previously, he was chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), which serves as the voice and advocate of the U.S. motion picture, home video, and television industries. Prior to joining the MPAA, Glickman was the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Glickman also served as a partner and senior advisor to the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.
Glickman served as the U.S. secretary of agriculture from March 1995 until January 2001. Under his leadership, the Department of Agriculture administered farm and conservation programs, modernized food-safety regulations, forged international trade agreements to expand U.S. markets, and improved its commitment to fairness and equality in civil rights.
Before his appointment, Glickman represented the 4th Congressional District of Kansas for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. During that time, he was a member of the House Agriculture Committee, including six years as chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal farm policy issues. Moreover, he was an active member of the House Judiciary Committee, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was a leading congressional expert on general aviation policy.
Roger Johnson was elected National Farmers Union’s 14th president during the organization’s 107th anniversary convention in 2009.
Prior to leading the family farm organization, Johnson, a third-generation family farmer from Turtle Lake, N.D., served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, a position he was first elected to in 1996. While Agriculture Commissioner, Johnson served on the State Industrial Commission, the North Dakota Trade Office Advisory Board, and the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education, among many other boards and commissions.
From 2007-2008, Johnson served as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). As NASDA president, he played a key role in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill, pressing for provisions that benefit agricultural producers, such as a permanent disaster program, ending the ban on interstate shipment of state-inspected meat, the re-balancing of loan rates for program crops and farm-based renewable energy. Johnson was chairman of NASDA’s Rural Development and Financial Security Committee from 2000 to 2007.
Johnson is a past president of the Midwestern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (MASDA), past president of the Food Export Association of the Midwest and a former chairman of the Interstate Pest Control Compact.
Johnson grew up in Farmers Union, participating in the organization’s youth programs, serving as a county president and chairman of the board of a local Farmers Union cooperative. Johnson graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural economics.
Johnson and his wife, Anita, are the proud parents of a daughter and two sons.
For over 20 years, Ellen Levinson has assisted clients in public policy advocacy, business and organizational development, and project financing and management. She is President of Levinson & Associates, a consulting firm in government relations and international development. The range of matters depends on the special needs of the client and have included trade policy, agriculture development, food security, global health, business linkages between developing countries and the United States, commercial enterprise development, increasing access to healthy foods for underserved populations in the United States, and commodity futures and derivatives.
Ms. Levinson also serves as the Executive Director of the Alliance for Food Aid, which is comprised of private voluntary organizations and cooperatives that conduct a range of assistance programs overseas. Food aid is used as part of emergency relief and developmental programs, assisting communities that lack the wherewithal to meet their basic food needs on a regular and sustainable basis. Alliance members use participatory methods that emphasize local initiative, technical assistance and training, and building local capacity, institutions and leaders. Ms. Levinson manages their efforts to strengthen the focus of food aid policies on strategies for improving the food security of recipients; to inform international negotiations that may affect the future of food aid; and to secure sufficient quantities of food aid for both chronic and emergency needs.
Prior to establishing Levinson & Associates, Ms. Levinson served as Government Relations Director for the law Firm Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft. She previously served on the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee on Trade to the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Agriculture. She also served as Legislative Director to Congressman Richard Durbin, who is now the senior Senator from Illinois and Senate Majority Whip. Ms. Levinson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and has conducted research and implemented programs in both of those areas.
Nancy Lindborg is the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) and leads the efforts of more than 500 team members in nine offices focused on crisis prevention, response, recovery and transition. Since being sworn into office in October 2010, Ms. Lindborg has led DCHA teams in response to the ongoing Syria Crisis, the Arab Spring, the Sahel 2012 drought, and numerous global crises. She continues to spearhead USAID efforts to advance resilience as a means to help communities out of chronic crisis. Ms. Lindborg has spent most of her career working on issues of transition, democracy and civil society, conflict and humanitarian response. Prior to joining USAID, she was president of Mercy Corps, where she spent 14 years helping grow the organization into a globally respected organization known for innovative programs in the most challenging environments. She holds a B.A and M.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and an M.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.