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us_food_aid
The House of Representatives is considering a bill that would reform the Food for Peace Act, which currently requires all agricultural commodities (i.e. food) in programs administered under the Act to be produced in the United States. The proposed Food Aid Reform Act amends the Food for Peace Act, but what does that mean for us here in the U.S.? Are we going to lose valuable American jobs by purchasing agricultural commodities abroad?

The Food for Peace Act is the bill that governs how we respond to emergency and nonemergency situations in other countries by providing food aid in times of need. Currently, the Act requires that all agricultural commodities be purchased in and exported from the United States to the target country, say, Country X. The reason this is a problem requiring a potential reform to this process is because of the high premium we pay for food in the U.S. versus the cost of the same food in Country X. That is, food may actually be much cheaper if purchased in Country X or a neighboring country.

Not only may food in Country X be cheaper, the cost of transporting food to Country X is astronomically higher as an international export than it potentially would be to transport it domestically. Especially if American food is being transported across oceans to arrive in Country X, the cost to both the taxpayer’s wallet and the environment are quite high in comparison to food being purchased a mere hundreds of miles or less away from the target area.

The Food Aid Reform Act changes the wording of the Food for Peace Act to allow agricultural commodities to be purchased in Country X or a neighbor of Country X to avoid the costs associated with purchase and export of American goods. Not only that, the Reform Act functions as an investment in the local economy of Country X, so that it may no longer need American food aid in the future. In that sense, this investment becomes an investment in our future.

Though there is an argument that we may lose a minimal number of jobs in the process of downsizing the rate at which we ship our food abroad for relief-type situations, the reform of our food aid system allows an investment in our future economy. By helping our friends across borders, we build future markets for American consumer goods. By the numbers, most countries to which we have offered aid have since developed consumer markets which, in turn, purchase goods from us. So, if the ethical argument isn’t convincing enough, consider the future of the American economy in reaching out to your local congressperson on these important issues. Your voice matters.

 – Herman Watson
Sources: The Borgen Project, GovTrack.US, ONE,
Photo: The Telegraph

ed-royce-food-aid-reform-act_opt
U.S. Representative Ed Royce of California’s 39th District, current Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has a long career in public service. Beginning in 1982 as a state senator for southern California, Representative Royce authored the nation’s first anti-stalker bill. Since then, his interests have transitioned to international issues and, serving his eleventh term in Congress, he now holds a long record in the House sub-committee focused on foreign affairs. Today, he is a staunch supporter of the Food Aid Reform Act, which currently faces stiff opposition in the House.

Edward “Ed” Royce is no stranger to standing up for change, even if he has to do so alone. Over thirty years ago, Representative Royce’s anti-stalker bill was the first of its kind in America. Now, all fifty states boast versions of that original bill. Later in his career, he was the first legislator to call for a single regulator under the Treasury Department for the three housing government sponsored entities: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the twelve Federal Home Loan Banks. The Congressman has had a storied career in pushing important national legislation.

From 1997 to 2004, Representative Royce chaired the Africa Subcommittee and, in his more recent work in Congress, he has voiced the importance of Africa to the U.S. Moreover, Royce underscores the importance of investing foreign aid in African nations. So much does the Chairman appreciate the necessity of efficient and effective aid for Africa that he has strongly voiced his support for immediate passage of H.R. 1983, the Food Aid Reform Act currently in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of Congress.

The Congressman recognizes that aid to Africa not only supports Africans in the fight against global poverty, but also revitalizes consumer markets in target countries that, in turn, purchase goods from the United States. The concept is not novel. Rather, historical data shows that most of those countries benefiting from U.S. aid in the past have since become consumers of American goods. The initial investment, as it turns out, acts as a catalyst to establish sustainable middle-class markets that demand imported products that we can provide. Simply put, foreign aid creates domestic jobs.

Representative Royce’s support for the Food Aid Reform Act, however, is more dollars and cents-minded than all that. By ending the current practice of purchasing food at a premium in the United States and sending it abroad on ocean vessels, many miles around the globe, we can focus on a cheaper alternative that focuses on small, local farmers in targeted, impoverished nations. That is, the bill would allow food destined for relief areas to be purchased locally from farmers at a much cheaper price and transported over land, a much shorter distance. Here is what the Chairman has to say on the issue:

“The system through which the United States provides food aid to those facing starvation is needlessly inefficient and ineffective. Especially given the current fiscal environment, it is critical that we enable the U.S. to reach two million more people while reducing mandatory spending by $500 million over ten years. The facts speak for themselves.”

Currently, the prognosis from Govtrack.us holds the bill at a 47% of passing the House. To learn more about the bill or to voice your support for its passage, contact your local congressperson.

– Herman Watson

Source: American Jewish World Service, Chairman Ed Royce, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Photo: The Foundry

Common Sense in the Food Aid Reform Act
The Food Aid Reform Act, or H.R. 1983, was introduced to Congress on May 15th of this year. Just a couple weeks ago, the House of Representatives subcommittee responsible for H.R. 1983, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, held a significant hearing on the bill. Though they have yet to officially report on the bill, govtrack.us gives it a 47% chance of passing. Given the importance of the Food Aid Reform Act in the fight against global poverty, this prognosis is troubling.

The Food Aid Reform Act amends the Food for Peace Act to reform assistance programs under that Act. As House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce notes, the current food aid system is needlessly inefficient and ineffective. The US buys food from American farmers and ships it across entire oceans to countries in need. The Food Aid Reform Act would result in food aid being purchased for cheaper from small farmers in the target nation itself, or somewhere nearby. Not only would food aid be cheaper under this approach, but impoverished local farmers would no longer be competing with heavy agribusinesses abroad.

According to a USDA pilot project, taxpayers would get 25% to 50% more food for their dollars under the Act. Moreover, food would reach communities up to fourteen weeks faster than through the current system. Clearly, the facts show the sensibility of reform.

Unfortunately, the 47% passage prognosis indicates there is much work to be done in drumming up the necessary support to get the bill passed. One way of getting this support is to take a moment to call your local congressperson and voice your opinion on the matter. If not for the good of local farmers themselves, we, as taxpayers, should consider our wallets.

– Herman Watson

Source: GovTrack, House Foreign Affairs Committee, The Hill

Food Aid Reform Act 2
A proposal to improve U.S. efforts to fight global poverty and hunger by reforming U.S. food aid policies to reach more people at a lower cost, faster and more efficiently was rejected by the House of Representatives in June.

The amendment to the Farm Bill proposed giving the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) the option of “local and regional purchase” to buy food closer to the region and people that would ultimately receive it. The amendment was voted down 220 to 203.

Under current policies, nearly all U.S. food aid must be purchased from domestic producers and half of it must be shipped overseas on U.S. ships. The stringent requirements are hampering U.S. aid from reaching those that most need it in a timely manner, critics charge.

The amendment was a watered-down version of the proposed bipartisan Food Aid Reform Act (H.R. 1983) that was introduced in April by Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). President Obama has also proposed a similar overhaul of how the U.S. delivers food aid.

Proponents of food aid reform point out that the fight isn’t over. A full list of which representatives voted for and against the food aid reform is easily available and provides a great opportunity for supporters of changing the system to continue to push those who voted against the amendment. It was a close vote, with 220 Democrats and Republicans voting against the proposal, while 203 voted in favor of it. (Eleven members did not vote.)

Is your representative on the “no” list? See the full list below.

220 No Votes (Democrats in italics):

Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)
Rodney Alexander (R-La.)
Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.)
Ron Barber (D-Ariz.)

Lou Barletta (R-Pa.)
John Barrow (D-Ga.)
Joe Barton (R-Tex.)
Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio)
Dan Benishek (R-Mich.)
Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.)
Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.)

Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
Charles W. Boustany Jr. (R-La.)
Robert Brady (D-Pa.)
Bruce L Braley (D-Iowa)

Paul C. Broun (R-Ga.)
Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Julia Brownley (D-Calif.)

Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.)
Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)
Ken Calvert (R-Calif.)
Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
John Campbell (R-Calif.)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.)
John Carney (D-Del.)

John Carter (R-Tex.)
William Cassidy (R-La.)
Kahty Castor (D-Fla.)
Judy Chu (D-Calif.)
William “Lacy” Clay Jr. (D-Mo.)
James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)

Howard Coble (R-N.C.)
Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)
Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)
K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.)
Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly (D-Va.)
Paul Cook (R-Calif.)
Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)
Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)
Rick Crawford (R-Ark.)
Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.)
Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)
Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)
Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.)
Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)
Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
John Dingell (D-Mich.)
Mike Doyle (D-Pa.)

John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.)
Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.)
William Enyart (D-Ill.)
Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.)
Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.)
Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)
John Fleming (R-La.)
J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.)
Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.)
Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio)
Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
Pete Gallego (D-Tex.)
John Garamendi (D-Calif.)
Joe Garcia (D-Fla.)

Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.)
Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)
Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.)
Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
Kay Granger (R-Tex.)
Sam Graves (R-Mo.)
Al Green (D-Tex.)
Gene Green (D-Tex.)
Tim Griffin (R-Ark.)
Morgan Griffith (R-Va.)
Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.)
Janice Hahn (D-Calif.)
Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)

Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)
Andy Harris (R-Md.)
Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
Denny Heck (D-Wash.)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)
Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.)
Ruben Hinojosa (D-Tex.)

Richard Hudson (R-N.C.)
Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.)
Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.)
Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.)
Bill Johnson (R-Ohio)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.)
Sam Johnson (R-Tex.)
Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.)
David Joyce (R-Ohio)
Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
William Keating (D-Mass.)
Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)

Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)
Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.)
Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)

Steve King (R-Iowa)
Pete King (R-N.Y.)
Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)
Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)
John Kline (R-Minn.)
Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)
James Lankford (R-Okla.)
Tom Latham (R-Iowa)
Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio)
Sander Levin (D-Mich.)
Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.)

Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.)
David Loebsack (D-Iowa)
Billy Long (R-Mo.)
Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)
Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.)
Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.)
Daniel Maffei (D-N.Y.)
Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Jim Matheson (D-Utah)
Jim McDermott (D-Wash.)
Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.)

Buck McKeon (R-Calif.)
David McKinley (R-W.Va.)
Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.)
Pat Meehan (R-Pa.)
Michael Michaud (D-Maine)
Candice Miller (D-Mich.)
George Miller (D-Calif.)

Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.)
Tim Murphy (R-Pa.)
Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.)
Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.)

Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.)
Kristi Noem (R-S.D.)
Rick Nolan (D-Minn.)
Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.)
Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)
Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.Y.)
Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.)
Steve Pearce (R-N.M.)
Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)
Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.)
Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)

Ted Poe (R-Tex.)
Bill Posey (R-Fla.)
Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)
Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)
David G. Reichert (R-Wash.)
Jim Renacci (R-Ohio)
Cedric Richmond (D-La.)
Scott Rigell (R-Va.)
Martha Roby (R-Ala.)
Mike Rogers (AL) (R-Ala.)
Mike Rogers (MI) (R-Mich.)
Tom Rooney (R-Fla.)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.)
Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.)
Jon Runyan (R-N.J.)
Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)
Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.)
Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)

Steve Scalise (R-La.)
Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)
Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-Pa.)

Austin Scott (R-Ga.)
Pete Sessions (R-Tex.)
Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.)
Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)

John Shimkus (R-Ill.)
Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)
Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Albio Sires (D-N.J.)

Jason Smith (R-Mo.)
Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)
Lamar Smith (R-Tex.)
Steve Southerland (R-Fla.)
Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)
Steve Stockman (R-Tex.)
Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.)

Glenn W. Thompson (R-Pa.)
Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.)
Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)
Dina Titus (D-Nev.)
Paul D. Tonko (D-N.Y.)

Michael Turner (R-Ohio)
Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
David Valadao (R-Calif.)
Juan Vargas (D-Calif.)
Marc Veasey (D-Tex.)
Filemon Vela (D-Tex.)
Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.)

Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)
Timothy J. Walz (D-Minn.)
Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)
Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-Ga.)
Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)
Roger Williams (R-Tex.)
Robert J. Wittman (R-Va.)
Steve Womack (R-Ark.)
Robert Woodall (R-Ga.)
Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.)
Don Young (R-Alaska)

ABSTAINED/did not vote
Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
Mike Honda (D-Calif.)
Rick Larsen (D-Wash.)
Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.)

Gary Miller (R-Calif.)
Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.)
Harold Rogers (R-Ky.)
Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)

– Liza Casabona

Sources: U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House Clerk’s Office Humanosphere OXFAM
Photo: Reuters

Food Aid Reform Act 1
On June 19 the U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have reformed how the United States delivers food aid to poor and hungry people around the world.

The proposal would have loosened U.S.-only procurement and cargo requirements, as well as financing rules, for distribution of U.S. aid that critics argue make the program inefficient, ineffective and wasteful.

The amendment was a watered-down version of the proposed bipartisan Food Aid Reform Act (H.R. 1983) that was introduced in April by Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Incidentally, the entire Farm Bill was also rejected the same week due to controversial proposals to significantly cut domestic nutrition assistance programs that help feed hungry families in the U.S.).

Most food aid the U.S. distributes overseas is provided through the Food for Peace Act (FPA) Title II (Emergency and Private Assistance) and is distributed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Under current law:

100 percent of the food aid commodities distributed through the program must be produced in the U.S.; 50 percent of the donated food aid has to be shipped overseas on U.S.-flagged ships; and monetization for at least 15 percent of the food aid must be in place. The proposals to reform the food aid policies would have helped food reach more people at a lower cost, faster and more efficiently by giving USAID the option of “local and regional purchase” to buy food closer to the region and people that would ultimately receive it.

By eliminating current restrictions, the proposed food aid reforms would have created a 20 percent savings and allowed food to reach its intended recipients 2 months sooner, according to estimates from the House Committee on Foreign Relations. Eliminating the cargo preference requirement alone would have saved an estimated $50 million a year.

Under the current monetization rules, the U.S. government purchased U.S.-produced food which it shipped overseas on a U.S.-flagged vessel. Once overseas the food was donated to aid organizations that sold the food in developing countries and used the proceeds to finance development projects. The system was inefficient and lead to an estimated loss of 25 cents on average of every tax dollar spent on food aid. Changing that system as the food aid reform bill proposed would feed 800,000 more people and save an estimated $30 million per year, according to estimates.

In the June 19 vote, 203 Representatives (both Democrats and Republicans) voted in favor of the reform proposal (220 voted against and 11 did not cast a vote). OXFAM said that the recorded vote provides a critical accountability and transparency tool for reform advocates to use in the future as they push for change in this arena.

See the full list of representatives who voted for the proposal below.

203 Yes Votes (Democrats in italics):

Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
Mark Amodei (R-Nev.)
Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)
Andy Barr (R-Ken.)
Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.)
Ami Bera (D-Calif.)
Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.)
Diane Black (R-Tenn.)
Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.)
Jo Bonner (R-Ala.)
Kevin Brady (R-Tex.)
Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)
Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
Susan Brooks (R-Ind.)
Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.)
Michael Burgess (R-Tex.)
G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)
Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
Lois Capps (D-Calif.)
Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.)
Andre Carson (D-Ind.)
Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.)
Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.)
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)
David Cicilline (D-R.I.)
Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)
Doug Collins (R-Ga.)
John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.)
Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
Jim Costa (D-Calif.)
Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.)
Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.)
John Culberson (R-Tex.)
Steve Daines (R-Mont.)
Susan Davis (D-Calif.)
Danny Davis K. (D-Ill.)
Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
John Delaney (D-Md.)
Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
Charles W. Dent (R-Pa.)
Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)
Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.)
Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Sean P. Duffy (R-Wis.)
Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)
Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.)
Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)
Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.)
Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.)
Sam Farr (D-Calif.)
Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.)
Bill Flores (R-Tex.)
Bill Foster (D-Ill.)
Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)
Lois Frankel (D-Fla.)
Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)
Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.)
Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.)
Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)
Tom Graves (R-Ga.)
Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)
S. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.)
Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)
Ralph M. Hall (R-Tex.)
Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.)
Doc Hastings (R-Wash.)
Joe Heck (D-Nev.)
Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.)
Jim Himes (D-Conn.)
George Holding (R-N.C.)
Steven Horsford (D-Nev.)
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)
Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)
Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.)
Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.)
Robert Hurt (R-Va.)
Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)
Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.)
Ron Kind (D-Wis.)
Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
Frank Wolf (R-Va.)
John A. Yarmuth (D-Ky.)
Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)
C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.)
Todd Young (R-Ind.)
Jack Kingston (R-Ga.)
Ann Kuster (D-N.H.)
Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
Leonard Lance (R-N.J.)
Jim Langevin (D-R.I.)
John B. Larson (D-Conn.)
Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.)
Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.)
Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)
Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.)
Tom Marino (R-Pa.)
Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
Doris O. Matsui (D-Calif.)
Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Michael T. McCaul (R-Tex.)
Tom McClintock (R-Calif.)
Betty McCollum (D-Minn.)
James McGovern (D-Mass.)
Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.)
Grace Meng (D-N.Y.)
Luke Messer (R-Ind.)
John Mica (R-Fla.)
Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)
Gwen Moore (D-Wis.)
James Moran (D-Va.)
Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.)
Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.)
Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
Richard Nugent (R-Fla.)
Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)
Pete Olson (R-Tex.)
Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.)
Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.)
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Scott Peters (D-Calif.)
Thomas Petri (R-Wis.)
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.)
Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.)
Jaren Polis (D-Colo.)
Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)
Tom Price (R-Ga.)
David Price (D-N.C.)
Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)
Trey Radel (R-Fla.)
Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Reid Ribble (R-Wis.)
Tom Rice (R-S.C.)
Phil Roe (R-Tenn.)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)
Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
Ed Royce (R-Calif.)
Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.)
Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.)
Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.)
Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)
John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.)
Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Brad Schneider (D-Ill.)
Aaron Schock (R-Ill.)
David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)
Robert C. Scott (D-Va.)
David Scott (D-Ga.)
F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.)
Chris Smith (R-N.J.)
Adam Smith (D-Wash.)
Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)
Chris Stewart (R-Utah)
Mark Takano (D-Calif.)
Lee Terry (R-Neb.)
Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)
John Tierney (D-Mass.)
Scott Tipton (R-Colo.)
Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)
Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.)
Tim Walberg (R-Mich.)
Greg Walden (R-Ore.)
Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Mel Watt (D-N.C.)
Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
Randy Weber (R-Tex.)
Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.)

– Liza Casabona

Source: U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House Clerk’s Office Humanosphere OXFAM
Photo: WordPress

Fighting the 7,000 Mile Food Chain

Congress met on Wednesday, June 12 to consider the Food Aid Reform Act, which would circumvent traditional aid channels by spending cash directly on locally produced food. Andrew Natsios, a professor at Texas A&M, called for the abolition of the “7,000 miles food chain” of aid from U.S. farms to emergency zones all over the world—which he argues would actually benefit U.S. industry.

“You have to order the food in the Midwest, it gets put on a ship, it can go 7,000 miles to the other side of the world, put on to trucks, and then moved into the famine or emergency zone,” he testified. “If the food is bought locally, you can avoid the 7,000-mile food chain.”

Avoiding that food chain would get food aid on the ground up to 14 weeks faster and reach 2-4 million more people, expert advocates say. Not only that, but it would cut food transportation costs completely, which currently eats up 50% of the foreign food aid budget. If those funds were reallocated as direct spending in foreign food markets, the same aid would be healthier, more efficient, and offer greater hope for a future sustainable economy. Cash inflow would empower local farmers and food manufacturers, rather than undermining their businesses the way traditional food aid does.

Yet the act is not a purely philanthropic one, Natsios suggested. The U.S. food industry would actually benefit from smarter aid. Currently, growing excess crops and dumping them overseas supports the farm subsidy framework that props up the food trade, but the burgeoning economies in the Middle East and Africa are actually raising up new hosts of consumers for U.S. farms and food commodities. Thus, helping to develop them by growing less, rather than undermine them by growing more, would be a great boon for U.S. companies.

– John Mahon

Sources: The Guardian, The Hill, MFAN

Food Aid Reform Act
On Wednesday, June 12 discussions continued on Capitol Hill in an attempt to push forward a modernization of US international food aid policy according to the Guardian’s Cydney Hargis.  HR 1983, the Food Aid Reform Act, would remove laws requiring US food aid to be grown in the United States and then shipped to the receiving countries.  Instead, it would allow food aid to be purchased in areas local to the countries receiving it.  The impact of the Food Aid Reform Act would be twofold:  it would eliminate the time and costs required to ship the food, and it would further stimulate the economies of countries or regions that are receiving US food aid.

Under the Food Aid Reform Act, aid could reach the receiving country up to 14 weeks sooner, giving up to 4 million people better access to food.  It would also significantly decrease transportation costs of US food aid, which make up 50 percent of the US food aid budget.  Right now US food aid has to travel 7,000 miles to reach its destination and that food chain is vulnerable, especially in conflict zones such as what we are seeing right now in Syria.

The other aspect of the Food Aid Reform Act is the stimulation of the local economy where the food is being produced.  When the US ships food to developing countries as aid, the US food can crowd out locally produced food.  This is especially important considering that most of the world’s poorest and those without food security are small farmers.  In shipping food to aid the poorest in the developing world, the US can prevent these farmers from being able to sell their crops at a profitable price, thereby harming the very people which USAID is supposed to be helping.

Purchasing food aid locally will raise the demand for local food, thereby driving up the price and enabling farmers to gain more profit out of the crops they sell.  This profit can then be put towards things like better fertilizers, water pumps, and other things which increase the productivity of these farmers.  When these farmers increase their productivity their communities will develop their food security, fixing the very reason that food aid would have to be provided to these developing nations in the first place.

The Food Aid Reform Act is a piece of bipartisan legislation that will go a long way to modernize US foreign aid.  It will help stimulate developing economies to bring them further towards contributing significantly to the global economy, which will ultimately lead to a more prosperous international community as a whole.

 Martin Drake

Source: The Guardian, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Photo: ONE

Food Aid Reform Act Faces Fight in Congress

Initial support for reforms to food aid came from both parties. It turns out everyone believes money for food aid in emergency situations should go to feed people. The problem comes when determining how that aid should work and where it should be spent. President Obama has introduced reforms to policy dating back to the Eisenhower era, but the food aid reforms have hit trouble in Congress.

The discussion is focused on whom the US should buy food in emergency situations.  Currently, the US purchases food from US farmers and ships it overseas. Reforms to food aid include using money allocated to purchase food from overseas farmers. The US is currently one of the only major food-producing nations that still ships its food overseas rather than purchasing food directly from poorer farmers.

The money involved is around $2 billion; US agriculture is expected to bring in $128 billion of profits this year, making this a small amount in comparison. For poor farmers around the world, it is life-changing. It allows farmers in developing nations to improve their crops and continue to produce and sell their goods. This amount also would help prevent food insecurity, a source of unrest in many nations. Food insecurity is often accompanied by other insecurities as well.

Nigeria’s Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Akinwnumi Adesina, is a major supporter of the reforms. The money would help Nigeria continue to promote national security and help farmers grow economically. The Obama plan would shift the $2 billion spent on food aid to the USAID and allow them to use it to purchase food overseas.  Farmers would get a subsidy for at least the first year to replace some of the lost profit. In addition, 55% of food aid dollars will still go to American farmers.

Food aid reforms are long overdue and a key to promoting global development worldwide. They are also a key step in helping the US keep nations secure and conflict at a minimum. The reforms will help countries like Nigeria shift away from food dependence to food independence and become growing, thriving economies.

Call your Congressional leaders today and request they support the Food Aid Reform Act (H.R. 1983).

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Bloomberg

7,000 Miles Saved with Food Aid Reform
Food Aid Reform is a big topic as lawmakers are working hard to get the bill passed through Congress. The reform will modernize policy that is outdated in the current global marketplace.  The food aid reform will enable USAID to purchase more locally grown food in emergency situations rather than shipping food from US suppliers. This change will save time, money, and improve local economies and the livelihoods of local farmers.

The Food Aid Reform Act would eliminate requirements that food must be purchased from the US and sent on US ships. It would enable food to be delivered quicker and reach an estimated 2 to 4 million more people. The increased flexibility would allow on the ground organizations more freedom to make decisions and meet needs quicker. In addition to increased efficiency, the reform would lower shipping costs significantly.

Right now, USAID spends 50% of it’s food aid budget on shipping. If food is purchased in the mid-west of US, it is transported to a US port, put on a ship, and sailed 7,000 miles around the world where it is unload and transported by land to the emergency area. This does not seem like the most profitable use of government funds when food is available in many of these economies for purchase. This will allow USAID to save the 7,000 mile trek it must send food on currently. The food aid reform would also help to stimulate local economies.

Now is an excellent time to call your Congressional Representative and ask them to support the Food Aid Reform Act. Find their information here.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Independent Daily European Express
Photo: House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Locally Produced Food and U.S. Aid Efficiency
The House and Senate are in the process of debating multiple versions of the farm bill, which may affect the way food aid is delivered. The Obama administration has suggested an overhaul to allow food aid to be bought and distributed locally, rather than grown in American and shipped abroad. Both the House and the Senate have rejected this principle, with the Senate approving a significantly scaled-back version of the suggested plan.

Local and regional procurement (LRP), the purchase of food within the area where it is to be distributed, has many advantages. LRP cuts delivery time by an average of 13.8 weeks, according to an extensive study completed out of Cornell University. LRP can also decrease the cost of food aid, especially with transportation. For example, local grain purchases are extremely effective at cost reduction, with an average savings of 53%. It has been suggested that locally procured food may be safer and of higher quality. The previously mentioned study found that LRP recipients were universally more satisfied than recipients of foods shipped from overseas.

The purchase of local foods also supports local farmers in developing economies and has been found to have generally negligible effects on local market price levels and their volatility. Additionally, local companies may have a better understanding of the recipient communities and markets than U.S. companies do. Distributing locally produced foods can also be safer. According to Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, shipping large amounts of food aid into some war-torn areas is an extremely dangerous and prolonged process.

Despite all the benefits of LRP, there are a few concerns that should be raised. Local markets may not be able to support rapidly increased demand, and this may result in increased prices that put non-recipients at a disadvantage. In addition, food safety and quality are extremely varied and difficult to monitor overseas. It is also inadvisable to rely on local vendors that have not been proven consistent when attempting to get food to people who are starving.

The Obama administration’s suggested plan concerned the main U.S. food aid program, called “Food for Peace.” The changes would mean using up to 45% of “Food for Peace” funding to buy food locally. However, both the House and the Senate have rejected this idea. The House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture has approved a version of the farm bill for debate on the House floor that advises a 20% cut to the “Food for Peace” program. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a bill that would increase annual funding for the purchase of local products by 50%, to $60 million. This is still a minute portion of the $1.8 billion spent on food aid each year. While the changes suggested by the Senate are commendable, they should be seen as a small step in the right direction, rather than a complete solution.

– Katie Fullerton
Source: NPR, The Columbus Dispatch, Reuters
Photo: Organic Connections