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Devex Examines Efforts To Reform U.S. Food Aid Program

“President Barack Obama’s sweeping overhaul of U.S. food aid may seem doomed as Congress chips away at his proposal in the coming days … [b]ut behind the scenes, advocates are setting the stage for incremental reform that would have seemed unlikely even several months ago,” Devex reports. The news service describes recent movement on budget negotiations and the Farm Bill, which the House failed to pass last week, and states, “The tug of war over the budget will continue, but perhaps the more interesting question revolves around how that money will be spent” through the Food for Peace program. “Resistance to Obama’s plan [to allow more flexibility in food aid spending] comes from U.S. farmers, the shipping industry and aid partners who have publicly said that the plan would put them out of business and set the economy back,” but “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah insists that only 300 of 15,000 U.S. shippers would be affected and the value of America’s total agriculture would drop by 0.2 percent,” according to Devex.

“[W]hile sweeping reform may prove unattainable this year, reform advocates remain busy brainstorming ideas that could be attached to various pieces of legislation or floated early with the Office of Management and Budget, which will begin crafting a fiscal 2015 budget in the coming weeks,” Devex writes, highlighting several examples. “Everyone expects reform to take years, but support appears to be higher than during the former George W. Bush administration, including among fiscal conservatives who see the reduction of in-kind food donations as a way to save money,” the news service notes (Rosenkranz/Morales, 6/27).