WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today delivered keynote remarks on USDA's role in Feed the Future, the US government's global hunger and food security initiative. Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff at the State Department, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also delivered remarks at the symposium, which was hosted by the Chicago Council for Global Affairs.

Below are excerpts from Vilsack's prepared remarks:

"Statistics tell us past approaches to global hunger -- which focused efforts on providing food aid – are not enough. In the short term, we must still provide food to those who need it most. But in the longer term, we need a comprehensive approach focused on developing sustainable solutions to eliminate food insecurity. Our goals should be to increase the availability of food by helping people and countries produce what they need, to make food accessible to those who need it, and to teach people to use it properly so that they receive the nutrition they need from it.

"At USDA, we are working with an interagency team to help design and implement the Feed the Future Initiative, sharing our expertise in the agricultural sector on everything from research and extension, to production and processing, and marketing products to consumers. USDA has capacity to both engage institutions abroad and work in a government-to-government capacity. And our efforts are coordinated with the Department of State and USAID, among other agencies and partners.

"USDA's engagement with global food security through Feed the Future focuses on a number of interventions needed to increase global food production and increase the incomes of the poor. I want to focus on two areas where I believe that USDA has a lot to offer: 1) research and extension and 2) building capacity through, assistance, sound public policies and institution building.

"USAID and USDA have been working together to develop a global agricultural research agenda which addresses some of the fundamental constraints that contribute to food insecurity, such as pests, diseases and weather in major food crops and livestock products. The strategy will also focus on increasing agricultural productivity and improving soil and water use efficiency. USDA has a long history of deploying research outputs to the field, working in partnerships with US and international universities, research institutions, private sector, farmer cooperatives and extension services. And we have achieved real and substantive results through our research and development.

"USDA knows that ensuring food security goes beyond just producing food -- which is why we are working to promote solid policy and regulatory systems, sound statistical and information systems, and strong ministries of agriculture. For example, through a grant from our National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Sam Houston State University is working with the Ministry of Agriculture in Mali to provide agricultural training for Malian farmers and extension agents. The program is helping increase agricultural productivity in Mali through improved technology and production techniques. And it is improving agricultural curriculum both at Sam Houston State University and several universities in Mali.

"We are focused on expanding domestic production in developing countries to meet the growing food demand. But even with the best efforts of the global community, it is likely that food production in many developing countries will be constrained by limited resources and prevailing weather patterns. That is why improved global and regional trade must be part of the solution to provide adequate global food supplies and food security. Trade encourages dietary diversity, drives economic opportunity, stabilizes food supplies and can reduce food costs."