Issue Deep Dive: US/Agriculture

Last updated: January 10, 2023

ODA Spending

ODA In Context

The US was the fourth-largest DAC donor to agriculture in 2020. This represented 12% of the total agriculture ODA provided by OECD DAC donor countries in 2020.

The US’ prioritization of agriculture within its broader development program in 2020 was much lower than the average for DAC donors in that year (3% of ODA), making it last among DAC donors, in relative terms.

Relative funding to agriculture ODA has been declining since 2016, with a shift from 5% of total ODA in 2016 to 3% of total ODA in 2020.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

In 2020, the US disbursed US$884 million to agriculture bilaterally (including US$150 million in earmarked funding to multilateral organizations), significantly less than the 2016 peak of US$1.8 billion. The top investment area in 2020 was ‘agricultural policy and administrative management,’ which received US$653 million, or 74% of US bilateral agriculture ODA. This area has seen significant growth in the last five years, increasing steadily since 2017 (US$309 million). The second-largest area of investment was ‘agricultural development’ with US$108 million, or 12% of ODA to agriculture, which has seen a clear decline since a peak of US$974 million in 2016. The third-highest investment area was ‘agricultural alternative development,’ which received US$82 million, or 9%. 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$253 million, or 22%, of its total agricultural ODA in the form of core contributions to multilateral organizations in 2020 (:abbrDAC average: 47%). This low share was mainly due to the US’ large bilateral portfolio in agriculture and food security. Top recipients included the World Bank’s IDA (14% of total agriculture ODA), the FAO (5%), and the ADF (2%).

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 (bilateral) funding from the US.

Funding & Policy Outlook

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 including in-kind food transfers and cash-based programs that provide means to acquire food. These functions, now part of Feed the Future, are authorized through 1) the Food for Peace Act, 2) the Food for Progress Act, 3) the McGovern-Dole Program, and 4) the Emergency Food Security Program. President Biden’s FY2023 budget request holds steady on funding for the Food for Peace Act (US$1.7 billion), the McGovern-Dole Program (US$230 million), and IFAD ( US$43 million). The Biden Administration has indicated that it 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 1) improving agricultural production and markets and creating new opportunities for security and prosperity; 2) strengthening community resilience; 3) reducing hunger and improving nutrition, especially among mothers and children; and 4) 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.

Key bodies

Adam Jennison

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