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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Proposed Food Aid Reform

The following is a summary of an editorial, opinion pieces, and a blog post addressing proposed reform to the U.S. food aid program contained in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request.

  • New York Times: “Since the mid-1950s, the United States has spent nearly $2 billion annually to feed the world’s poor, saving millions of lives. But the process is so rigid and outdated that many more people who could be helped still go hungry,” the editorial states, adding, “Reforms proposed by President Obama will go a long way toward fixing that problem and should be promptly enacted by Congress.” The editorial continues, “Under a proposal in Mr. Obama’s new budget, nearly half the $1.5 billion requested for food aid in 2014 could instead be used to buy food in bulk in countries in need or to provide individual recipients with vouchers or debit cards for local food purchases.” The newspaper concludes, “Obama’s proposed reforms will feed more people for the same amount the United States spends now. There is no excuse for not putting them into effect” (4/27).
  • Ryan Alexander, Albany Tribune: “Unsurprisingly, the existing system’s boosters are outraged,” Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, writes. “Supporters tout this [current food aid] system as being good for farmers, good for shippers, and even good for the aid groups. But it’s horribly inefficient,” he continues, adding, “If we as a nation decide that for humanitarian, diplomatic, and strategic reasons we’ll keep providing food aid, then we should do it in a cost-effective manner that gets the most bang for our buck. That means not lining the pockets of U.S. agribusiness and shipping interests along the way” (4/28).
  • David Beckmann, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: Obama’s FY14 budget “proposal is particularly encouraging because it includes important reforms to our international food aid system — allowing greater flexibility and increasing efficiency so that food aid reaches millions more people,” Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, writes. “This is a major step forward,” he states, adding, “First, food aid under the president’s proposal would reach up to four million more people than do current programs. Second, it gains efficiencies at a time when every penny counts, and lawmakers are deadlocked on the budget” (4/26).
  • Ambassador David Lane, U.S. State Department’s “DipNote” blog: “The announcement of a major reform to U.S. food aid in President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget has spawned considerable reaction, both praise and criticism,” Lane, U.S. representative to the U.N. agencies in Rome, writes. “From my perspective as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies that provide food assistance and promote agricultural development, it is a welcome development long in the making,” he continues, adding, “We must remain flexible and innovative, learn from our experiences and tailor our interventions based on evidence and the best that science and technology have to offer, so that we can end hunger and undernutrition and help meet the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population in the future” (4/26).