Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition Issues for Planning

CED-79-36: Published: Jan 29, 1979. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 1979.

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Food, agriculture, and nutrition issues facing Congress and the nation are described in an effort to identify food system goals that represent the main elements of a national food policy. GAO prepared program plans centering on 35 different issues that set out strategies involving the growth of world population, increase in food demands, and efficient distribution of food production resources. A national food policy will be based on the following underlying goals: assuring safe, nutritious food for all segments of the population; assuring that the economic strength of the food system is maintained; fulfilling the nation's commitment to help meet world food demand through development assistance, humanitarian measures, and commercial exports; and developing and coordinating national and international food policies and programs.

Responsibility for Federal food programs and policies is fragmented throughout the Government, and there appears to be an overlapping of responsibility among the Federal agencies and congressional committees. Over 26 agencies and 30 full congressional committees have some responsibility in food programs and policies. In Congress, jurisdictional overlap is more pronounced. The Senate and House Agriculture Committees have general responsibility for most food legislation, but many major food programs and policies are also within the jurisdiction of other committees. Continued attention in Congress for the future will probably be focused in four areas: efforts to minimize the impact on the consumer from inflation in general, and particularly from rising food prices; the integration of food safety, nutrition, and health, including the development of an improved grain inspection program; the effects of rising production costs and resource losses on farmers; and the balancing of Federal roles in international trade and providing technical and food assistance to other nations.

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