Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and a delegation of U.S. officials are discussing food security with counterpart nations in the Group of 8 coalition of nations during a three-day agriculture summit in Italy starting Friday. Vilsack calls this meeting of agricultural ministers historic, as this is the first time such a meeting has taken place.
While the U.S. plans to double aid for food safety across the globe, Vilsack says monetary aid is not the only contribution the U.S. is making to address world food security.
"It is actually making sure that individuals have food that is available. Either available through their own work and efforts, or through a robust trade regime, or to the extent that their emergency circumstances the way the world responds in food aid," Vilsack said. "It's also not just about availability, it's also about access. It's about building economies and understanding and appreciating the necessity of having robust economies that allow people the opportunity to purchase food."
In addition to the G8 there will also be oil producing countries and a number of African countries in attendance as well as several fast developing nations such as India, Brazil and China. Vilsack says those non-G8 nations will have the chance to observe the discussion between delegations on Friday and several side discussions.
"It is also an opportunity for me and my counterparts to have bi-lateral conversations and discussions," Vilsack said. "We have a fairly robust schedule of those kinds of discussions to establish relationships, to perhaps address issues of significance and to lay the groundwork for further discussions."