ST. LOUIS -- The American Soybean Association today called for Congress to support new legislation to continue the important George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program.

ASA applauded Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) for introducing legislation last night that seeks to reauthorize the McGovern-Dole program for fiscal years 2007-2012.

The USDA introduced the program as a pilot in 2000. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 formally launched the program that received $100 million in FY 2007 to fight hunger. More than 300 million children in the world suffer from hunger.

The legislation (H.R. 6229) introduced by Emerson and McGovern would continue the program under the oversight of the USDA. The bill calls for increased funding in $150 million increments over five years, beginning with $250 million in FY 2008 and reaching $850 million in FY 2012.

"Every parent wants food and a future for their children," said ASA President Richard Ostlie, a soybean producer from Northwood, N. Dak. "Adding high-protein soy is a simple and cost effective way to help children. Soybean growers make the McGovern-Dole program even more effective through ASA's World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program that assists international groups with education and training on the use of high-protein soy. For a few cents per serving, high-protein soy can be added to foods that are already popular with children in developing countries."

Numerous groups have requested high-protein soy through the McGovern-Dole Program to help them fight hunger. In August 2004, USDA announced 800 metric tons of textured soy protein to Florida-based Food for the Poor to aid their efforts to feed 117,500 people in Guatemala. At the same time, Mercy Corps received soy protein concentrate to help feed 20,000 people in Eritrea, a country in northern East Africa.

"Through the combination of government programs, such as McGovern-Dole, and private efforts, such as the American Soybean Association's WISHH program, the world's poor experience the generosity of Americans firsthand," said U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson. "Hunger relief and food aid not only provide nutrition to those in need, they also expand education, expose new markets to U.S. commodities, and make us safer at home. When children are learning in school and infants and mothers are properly fed, extremist ideas do not find receptive audiences. There is no question that humanitarianism is a major, effective weapon in the fight against terrorism."

Ensuring minimum funding levels will strengthen the USDA's ability to carry out long-term planning, implementation and evaluation of the program as well as increase local capacity-building and sustainability. It will also encourage other donors to match the U.S. commitment to international school feeding programs.

The WISHH program is also focused on creating long-term sustainable solutions to meet the rising demand for protein in developing countries. Headquartered at the ASA in St. Louis, WISHH has worked in 23 countries to improve diets as well as encourage growth of food industries in developing countries.

SOURCE: ASA news release.