Chairman Roberts Honored with Child Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. – For his decades of work to ensure child nutrition and fight global hunger, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today was presented the 2018 Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant impacts to end childhood hunger. Click here to read Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery.
“Feeding a troubled and hungry world…It is a phrase I’ve said often over the years, and it has not lost its meaning,” said Chairman Roberts. “As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, I represent the farmers, ranchers, and growers who are responsible for feeding that troubled and hungry world. I take their job very seriously. Our producers play a critical role in ensuring a safe and reliable food supply. It has always been that way.”
“Nutrition programs and policies have evolved over the years through Farm Bills. The Senate Agriculture Committee is currently in the process of crafting a new Farm Bill, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these programs are supported and strengthened. We must also look for creative and new ways to allow our producers and other stakeholders to do what they do best—feed people. In a time when we hear a great deal about gridlock and partisanship, I am fortunate to lead a Committee that has proven to be the exception.”
“Around the world we see increasing challenges emerge in food security, and Mother Nature is certainly one of them. If we don’t equip producers with tools like biotechnology, and other plant breeding innovations, the risk of food insecurity, and even famine, will increase dramatically. Show me a nation that cannot feed itself and I’ll show you a nation in chaos. There is no greater threat to national security, than food security. I am incredibly proud of the role that U.S. agriculture plays in feeding a troubled and hungry world.”
With a long held belief that the United States should use food as a tool for peace and stability, Chairman Roberts has continually sought ways to promote the areas where American agriculture and global hunger intersect. Looking to technology and the future to address hunger domestically and abroad, Roberts has encouraged investment in agriculture research to help America’s agriculture producers grow more with less. He has pursued ways to protect our plant and animal resources from threats, whether naturally occurring or intentional. Roberts has also improved access to quality nutrition for children abroad and at home, as well as adults and seniors in need.
Senator Roberts has engaged on these issues throughout his career:
- McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program: In 2003, Roberts led a letter of support signed by all 100 Senators for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which incentivizes hungry children in poor nations around the world to go school by offering them a free meal. He has consistently highlighted those programs since their creation in the 2002 Farm Bill.
- African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): In 2015, Senator Roberts cosponsored a bipartisan amendment to AGOA that expanded agricultural trade technical assistance across federal agencies. Since AGOA was signed into law, USDA and USAID have increased collaboration to support agricultural production, trade policy development, and programs that support girls’ education through programs like McGovern-Dole.
- Older American Act and Senior Nutrition: Senator Roberts has been a long-time supporter of the Older Americans Act (OAA), and in particular, senior nutrition programs, like Meals on Wheels. In 2007, Roberts introduced legislation to preserve the way some states, including Kansas, acquire commodities for their senior nutrition programs.
- Food and Medicine as a Tool for Peace: In the late nineties, the U.S. had in place sanctions on more than 70 nations representing nearly three-fourths of the world’s population. Upon joining the Senate in 1997, Roberts introduced legislation to exempt agriculture commodities from sanctions on India and Pakistan. The legislation was signed into law, resulting in a $37 million sale of wheat to Pakistan.
- Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Under Roberts’ leadership in the 114th Congress, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry unanimously approved the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. Roberts held hearings to review the programs and traveled all over Kansas, eating school lunches with students and meeting with nutrition directors. In 2017, Roberts worked with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to implement greater flexibility in the school meal standards, mant of which were included in his original child nutrition bill.
- Agriculture Research/FFAR: Roberts was an original cosponsor of the establishment of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) initiative in the 2014 Farm Bill. Building upon and complementing existing research at USDA, the Foundation facilitates partnerships with the private sector to invest in bold and innovative ideas.
- Agriculture Security/NBAF: The building of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas, was a 16-year effort that started with a vision by Roberts to make Kansas a leader in food research and biosecurity. Over the 16 years, Roberts has stressed the national security implications if the nation did not address the biological threat that exists against our vulnerable plant and animal population. NBAF celebrated its groundbreaking in May of 2015. The $1.25 billion lab is expected to be completed in 2022.
- Agriculture Security/BRI: In 1999, as the first Chairman of the newly-formed Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Roberts became aware of the threat our nation faced against intentionally introduced pathogens that could be weaponized and aimed at destroying plant and animal populations. The U.S. lacked a national strategic plan to prevent and contain a bio or agro attack, and Roberts went to work to ensure an agroterrorism would never happen in the U.S. By 2003, as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Roberts was able to elevate the threat assessment for a biological attack on the nation’s agriculture economy among the Top Five. He ensured the Central Intelligence Agency prioritized this threat as the war on terrorism grew. In a simultaneous effort, Roberts secured the appropriate waivers from USDA for Kansas State University to conduct biosecurity level 3 research in a new state-of-the-art facility, while the university raised funding to build what is now known as the BRI, which the Board of Regent’s later named “Pat Roberts Hall.” The BRI played an absolutely critical role in the site selection competition that was to come for a National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) operated by DHS.
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