Howard Buffett Foundation, ADM Launch Effort to Fight Hunger in U.S.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Archer Daniels Midland have announced the launch of the Invest an Acre initiative, which is designed to encourage U.S. farmers to donate the profits from the sale of an acre or more of their crops to Feeding America.

Established by the farming son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the foundation will create an opportunity for farmers doing business with ADM to invest a portion of their proceeds at the point of sale, either when the farmer signs a contract or delivers a crop. It also will underwrite all Feeding America costs and a public awareness campaign. ADM will manage the accounting and transactions with farmers and local foodbanks.

In recent years, Buffett, whose foundation has focused its efforts in areas of the world that many aid groups avoid because of war, geographic location, or other challenges, has devoted more attention to domestic hunger after the economic downturn drove many Americans into unemployment and want. According to Feeding America, the number of people served by its network of foodbanks increased nearly 50 percent, to 37 million, in 2010, from 25 million in 2006.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 15 percent of rural households consistently ran short of food in 2010, while the rate was 17 percent in urban areas. Many experts argue that hunger in rural areas presents unique challenges, including long distances between markets and foodbanks and lack of transportation options.

"[My father] has always said you're never going to bat 1.000 if you try something difficult, but it's better to strike out a few times than... always play it safe," Buffett told the AP. "I can't think of any better group in this country than farmers that would want to help hungry people. That's what we do — we grow food."