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Washington, D.C.- Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing on the challenges facing global food security. 

Watch here.

-Remarks as delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this important hearing. We’ve been focused on this issue quite a bit lately.

I want to thank our witnesses for being here today.

COVID-19 and unprecedented droughts have already strained global food supply chains. Now, Putin’s unprovoked and full-scale invasion of Ukraine is the nail in the coffin.

Starvation has likely already begun – with an average of one person dying every 48 seconds across Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In Somalia alone, 380,0000 children are at risk of dying.

Globally, 50 million people across 45 countries are on the brink of famine.

Meanwhile, Putin’s invading forces in Ukraine have mined fields, bombed grain silos, and stolen Ukrainian grain.

Within 24 hours of it being signed, an agreement to secure grain exports was violated by Russian forces firing four missiles at the Port of Odessa. We had David Beasley with the World Food Program testify just last week. I met privately with him as well, and within 24 hours, I don’t trust [Putin].

Like Stalin, Vladimir Putin is purposefully starving the Ukrainian people, blocking them from their access to the Black Sea. Not unlike Stalin did many years ago. He is also trying to weaponize starvation.

He should think about his legacy. Does he want to cause a global famine? That is what David Beasley tried to persuade through Mr. Lavrov, that this is not your legacy.

Now we are going to see a rise in forced migration, destabilization, and destabilization in the Sahel, which will result in more ISIS/Al-Qaeda terrorism.

We provided $8 billion in supplemental funding to address global humanitarian needs and the food security crisis.

I look forward to hearing what USAID is doing to get these funds out the door and where it needs to go as soon as possible.

I would also urge the administration to waive the cargo preference requirements for the purposes of this emergency.

Our priority should be paying for food, not unnecessary shipping costs. Spending unnecessary resources on shipping means less food for starving people. It is not an exaggeration to say that action now will save lives.

And I hope greater flexibilities on cargo preference will be a bipartisan issue that we can address together in this committee through legislation.

The U.S. cannot and should not respond alone. Other countries must step up to the plate and do more. The U.S. has provided the World Food Program with $3.9 billion this year, while China has only provided $3 million.

That is unacceptable.

Amidst this global crisis, we cannot lose focus on longer term investments in food security and agriculture growth.

As someone from an agriculture state myself, I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Global Food Security Act, along with Chairman Meeks, Representative McCollum, and Representative Smith.

Congress must reauthorize these critical programs and do everything we can to advance smart investments in food security, nutrition, and ultimately the ability for families and communities to provide for themselves.

I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously advanced my bill, the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act, out of their committee, and I urge the Senate to pass this important bill.

I was also glad to see Administrator Powers announcement to buy additional nutrition supplies for global use.

Combatting global starvation must be a priority for Congress and this administration and should be a priority for this nation. For if we do nothing, it will certainly come to our doorsteps.

And with that, I yield back.”