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World Food Prize Honors Heads of Two Groups Based in US

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

This year's World Food Prize will honor two leaders of hunger-fighting groups based in the United States. The winners are David Beckmann of Bread for the World and Jo Luck of Heifer International. They will share the prize of two hundred fifty thousand dollars.

The World Food Prize usually goes to researchers or top policy officials. This is the first time it will recognize the work of nongovernmental groups. The winners were announced last week at the State Department in Washington. The privately supported prize will be awarded in Des Moines, Iowa, in October.

World Food Prize Honors Heads of Two Groups Based in US
World Food Prize Honors Heads of Two Groups Based in US

Heifer International provides donated animals and training to farmers in fifty countries. Jo Luck stepped down this year after almost twenty years as chief executive officer. She remains president until next year. Under her leadership, the group's budget grew from less than ten million dollars to more than one hundred thirty million.

JO LUCK: "People pass on their gifts of not just animals. They pass on those gifts of training and leadership. We have seen cases where we have been gone five and ten years and we go back and they have developed roads and built schools, and they have other communities receiving the animals and the training. You just give them those resources and that training and opportunity, and you cannot hold them back."

She told the story of a woman from a poor village in Zimbabwe. A family member helped send her to school in the United States with earnings from a donated milk goat. She received a doctoral degree.

JO LUCK: "That is what a goat did. That is one example. The animal is only the catalyst. That is the beginning of many other things that follow."

World Food Prize Honors Heads of Two Groups Based in US
World Food Prize Honors Heads of Two Groups Based in US

David Beckmann became president of Bread for the World in nineteen ninety-one. Before that, he worked on poverty issues at the World Bank. He is an economist and a Christian clergyman.

Bread for the World organizes people from religious and non-religious groups to write, call and visit members of Congress. The purpose is to support measures to improve the lives of the poor.

David Beckmann points to big increases in American development assistance.

DAVID BECKMANN: "I think that would not have happened without the advocacy of hundreds of thousands of people and churches that are part of Bread for the World and that keep the pressure on their members of Congress."

The prize committee also credited his efforts with helping to increase aid to needy families in the United States.

Norman Borlaug established the World Food Prize in nineteen eighty-six. His work with rice and wheat crops saved millions from starving in Asia and Latin America. The plant scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner died last year at the age of ninety-five.

And that’s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson with Steve Baragona. Transcripts and MP3s of our reports are at You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I’m Jim Tedder.