from the National Farmers Union
WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson participated in a panel discussion about proposed reforms to the U.S. international food aid system. The panel, entitled “Proposed Reforms to U.S. Food Aid: Framing the Debate,” was hosted by FoodPolicy.us.
“At the time when food aid was enacted, we had a large oversupply of grain and accompanying low market prices,” said Johnson. “The government was purchasing or receiving and physically holding significant stocks, and aid had a dual purpose of getting rid of these stocks and helping vulnerable people around the world. Today the government does not own grain stocks. Our food system has changed drastically in the past 50 years; naturally, our system of international aid must evolve as well.”
The president’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposed a variety of reforms in the area of food aid. Overall, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates the proposed reforms would create an estimated $155-215 million in annual gross efficiency savings and $105-165 million in net efficiency savings, allowing the agency to serve an additional two to four million people in need each year. The reforms propose to require at least 55 percent of emergency food assistance continue to be in the form of U.S. commodities, and up to 45 percent may be acquired through local and regional purchasing.
“Ultimately, if we truly want to end global food insecurity, we must consider what is going to best serve local farmers, local economies, and hungry people,” said Johnson.