Lugar to talk on food security

A longtime U.S. senator from Indiana will speak next month during the Williams Laws Peacemaking Lecture.

Sen. Richard Lugar, who served in Congress from 1976 to 2013, will speak Nov. 11 at First Presbyterian Church on “Food Security: A Global Peacemaking Work.”

Lugar serves as president of the Lugar Center, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on global food security, weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation, foreign aid effectiveness and bipartisan governance.

Food security was an issue that he worked on as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Lugar said.

Part of his focus at the Lugar Center has been trying to connect with universities and extension services abroad in an attempt to understand the types of food people are eating and the types of crops that are most promising, he said.

“We’re also working to increase access to science in these countries,” Lugar said. “Farmers need to have much more information to make an informed choice about what best suits their purposes. And likewise, there should be a special emphasis on the fact that women are major factors in terms of production in these countries.”

Lugar said advancing the health and nutrition of crops is also important, adding that he hopes to strengthen working relationships with foreign universities to increase their interest as well. Still, he said the amount of crop production needs to be expanded across the globe.

That will occur by using the same types of breakthroughs in seed production, fertilizer and soil management that were developed in the United States, Lugar said. Those ideas were something he attempted to promote when in the Senate under foreign assistance-programs, he said.

“What we’re attempting to do is help other nations develop their own agricultural background, their own ability to make these developments,” he said.

Lugar founded the Lugar-Nunn Cooperative Threat Reduction program, in conjunction with Sen. Sam Nunn, that reduced the number of warheads and missiles in the former Soviet Union by about 8,000. Arms control remains an important topic, which Lugar said he’s willing to discuss during his lecture.

The Rev. Felipe Martinez, who leads the First Presbyterian Church, said his church has worked with St. Bartholomew Catholic Church and others to lobby senators and congressmen for continued support of policies tied to food security in the United States and abroad.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is named after the late William R. Laws, who served as pastor at the church for about 30 years.

If you go

What: William Laws Peacemaking Lecture featuring former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 517 Seventh St.

When: 4 p.m. Nov. 11

Cost: Admission is free and open to the public

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com