HUNTINGTON – Modernizing farming in developing nations is crucial if global famine, disease, war and mass migrations are to be avoided, U.S. Sen. Todd Young and new agriculture ambassador Kip Tom said Wednesday at Huntington University.

America sees economic and national security benefits from providing farm aid, technology and know-how to those countries, Young and Tom said during a panel discussion on global food security organized by the nonprofit Farm Journal Foundation.

“We save money, we save American lives, I would argue, by these sorts of key investments in preventing mass tragedies from occurring or from exacerbating because ultimately, when people are hungry it tends to lead to destabilization and to conflicts,” Young, R-Ind., told about 100 people at Huntington University's Habecker Dining Commons.

“Rather than sending in the United States Marines or the Army or the Navy, I'd much prefer to send in bags of rice and other sustenance and teach people how to sustain themselves and create a resilient structure, which is what we aim to do,” he said.

Tom, a Kosciusko County-based farmer, said nearly 90 million people in 80 nations suffer from food insecurity, about 80% of them in places that are wracked by violent conflict.

Most are small farmers whose methods date back “hundreds of years ago,” he said.

“Broken food systems” and large migrations “will worsen unless the underlying cause of food insecurity and underemployment are better addressed,” said Tom, appearing by video feed from Washington, D.C., where he later in the day was sworn in as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

“So putting pressure on agriculture to feed these people, it's a challenge,” he said.

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