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Groups Expect White House To Propose New Global Food Aid Approach

“The White House may soon propose the biggest change in U.S. food aid since the programs were created during the Cold War — donating cash for hunger relief instead of shipping American-grown food thousands of miles to global trouble spots, say farm groups and charities,”Reuters reports. “Groups on both sides of the issue said on Monday that the Obama administration, when it unveils its budget for the fiscal year opening October 1, may endorse cash donations and propose fewer food donations,” the news service writes, noting, “The White House and U.S. Agriculture Department declined to comment to Reuters about a possible cash proposal.” Reuters states, “Reformers have argued for years that cash donations, the method used by most nations, are more efficient and speedier,” but “food donation has been the favored U.S. approach since the Food for Peace program was enacted in 1954.”

“Oxfam and allies such as American Jewish World Service point to a 2012 Cornell University study as support for the idea that cash, used to buy local food near the recipients’ area, is more efficient than sending bags of flour or rice, bottles of vegetable oil, dried milk and other aid,” according to Reuters. However, “[f]arm groups and agribusinesses said they opposed dramatic cuts or the elimination of Food for Peace,” the news service writes, adding, “Steep cuts will undermine ‘one of our most effective, lowest-cost national security tools’ that builds good will overseas, they said in a letter last week to senators who oversee food aid programs.” The news service notes, “Food donation also has strong support on Capitol Hill” (Abbott, 2/25).