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Congressional Conference Committee Begins Debate On Food Aid Reform In Farm Bill

“The Farm Bill Conference meeting kicked off Wednesday with a strong statement from Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calling for ‘common sense’ reforms to the U.S. international food aid program Food for Peace,” Devex reports. Royce “called on Congress to require that development groups recover 70 percent of the shipping and procurement costs associated with monetization (donating U.S.-produced food commodities to NGOs who then sell them abroad to fund programs) and allow for flexible spending on 20 percent of food aid funding instead of limiting that money to the procurement of in-kind U.S. food commodities,” the news service writes, adding, “Finally, the congressman advocated for the re-authorization and expansion of the Local and Regional Procurement program established under the 2008 Farm Bill, which would allow for more local food sourcing rather than buying American produce and shipping it overseas” (Igoe, 10/31). National Journal notes the meeting’s “tone was conciliatory and congressional farm leaders made plans to continue negotiations next week even though the House is out of session” (Hagstrom, 10/30). According to an Oxfam America press release, “a bipartisan group of more than 50 members of the [House] sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees expressing strong support for [food aid] reforms contained in the Senate version of the bill” (10/22).