Policy Context

The US food security program is a whole-of-government approach: US food security is led by USAID under the Feed the Future Initiative, which began in 2010. The initiative is focused on strengthening agricultural growth, nutrition, and resilience. It works across agencies, the private sector, civil society, universities, and researchers. It also partners with other governments. USAID works in 20 target countries as well as at the regional level. Feed the Future is currently supported by the Global Food Security Strategy 2022-2026. This work is underpinned by the Global Food Security Act, first passed in 2016, then reauthorized in 2018 and in 2022. There is also a Global Food Security Research strategy that works in tandem with the overall global food security work.

Addressing food security is done holistically, with a focus on reducing poverty and stunting and an emphasis on equity and inclusion aiming for agricultural-led economic growth for women, girls, youth, and marginalized populations: It seeks to work through climate smart innovations to help communities adapt to climate change and to help COVID-19 recovery through improved food production and market systems.

Under the Biden Administration, funding requests for food security continue to rise: The FY2025 budget request, for example, was for a 15% increase over FY2023 enacted levels for a total of US$1.16 billion.

ODA Spending

How much ODA does the US allocate to agriculture?

The US was the fourth-largest DAC donor to agriculture in 2022.

The US’ prioritization of agriculture within its broader development program in 2022 (1.8% of total ODA) was much lower than the 6% average for DAC donors in that year, making it last among DAC donors, in relative terms. Supporting global food security, however, has become an important priority for the US.

How is US agricultural ODA changing?

Relative funding to agriculture ODA has been declining since 2017, with a shift from 5% of total ODA in 2017 to 1.8% of total ODA in 2022.

How does the US allocate agricultural ODA?

Bilateral Spending

The top investment area in 2021 was ‘agricultural policy and administrative management,’ which received US$540 million, or 72% of US bilateral agriculture ODA. This area has seen significant growth in the last five years, increasing steadily since 2017 (US$321 million). The 2nd-largest area of investment was ‘agricultural development', which has seen a decline since a peak of US$764 million in 2017 before increasing slightly to US$84 million, or 11% of bilateral ODA to agriculture. The 3rd-largest area was ‘agricultural alternative development’ with US$55 million, or 7% of bilateral ODA to agriculture This project area includes operations to reduce illicit drug cultivation through other agricultural marketing and production opportunities, in line with the US’ overall policy focus on national security concerns within all ODA sectors.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

The US provided US$164 million, or 28% of its total agricultural ODA, in the form of core contributions to multilateral organizations in 2021 ( DAC average: 49%). This share is low, although increasing from 14% in 2021, mainly due to the US’ large bilateral portfolio in agriculture and food security.

The table below summarizes the US’ more recent commitments to multilaterals working on agricultural development. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked funding through multilaterals from the US.

Funding & Policy Outlook

What is the current government's outlook on agricultural ODA?

US food security efforts encompass food assistance, agricultural and rural economic development, and nutrition. The focus on food security is reflected in USAID's JSP FY2012 - FY2026, which cites the US Global Food Security Strategy 2022-2026 as an instrument to implement its overall strategic objectives. A critical part of these efforts are food assistance initiatives to strengthen agricultural growth, nutrition, and climate adaptation and resilience through US government agencies, civil society, the private sector, research entities and partner governments. The other significant effort is providing emergency food assistance to vulnerable and malnourished populations.

The FY2023 total international food funding levels were US$2 billion, with US$1.8 billion for the Food for Peace Act and the US$243 million for the McGovern-Dole Program. IFAD remained consistent in FY2023 at US$43 million, and the US pledged US$162 million in support of IFAD’s Thirteenth replenishment. Overall, however, FY2024 levels, dropped to US$1.9 billion in both discretionary and base-emergency funding. The FY2025 budget requested US$1.2 billion for total food security programs. The Biden Administration views agricultural development as key to relieving global hunger, a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine.

The US’ largest bilateral agriculture initiative is Feed the Future: Feed the Future is led by USAID, in cooperation with the US Office of Agricultural Policy and the Office of Global Food Security, and focuses on:

  • improving agricultural production and markets and creating new opportunities for security and prosperity;
  • strengthening community resilience;
  • reducing hunger and improving nutrition, especially among mothers and children; and
  • increasing the exchange of ideas, technologies, and products.

It places a special emphasis on smallholder farmers, especially women, the extreme poor, youth, other marginalized communities, and SMEs. In 2022, Congress passed the reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act, which provides authorization for US global food programs for another 5 years.

Key bodies

Related Publications

A new era of development assistance: Key takeaways from the G7 summit

Donor Updates in Brief: 2023 OECD Preliminary Data

COP28: A pre-event primer for advocates

Looking for a cross donor perspective?

Learn more about SEEK's work on agriculture

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