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Opinion Piece, Blog Posts Address Proposed U.S. Food Aid Reform

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

  • Rachel Bergenfield, Christian Science Monitor: “[C]urrent food aid policy actually harms the people whom the U.S. is trying to help. President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget will fix this,” Bergenfield, an international relations consultant, writes. “In short, current U.S. food aid policy is the equivalent of McDonald’s shipping every french fry from its headquarters in Oakbrook, Ill., to its franchises throughout the world,” she writes. “[USAID] estimates that the proposed changes will lead to significant efficiencies and cost savings,” but “[u]nfortunately, Mr. Obama’s proposed changes face narrow but fierce opposition from shipping and agriculture businesses and lawmakers in Congress from big farming states,” Bergenfield writes. However, she states, “[I]f politicians are serious about the government cutting costs and avoiding cultivating aid dependency abroad, they’ll support Obama’s proposed reforms to U.S. food aid” (5/24).
  • Nick Conger, Chicago Council On Global Affair’s “Global Food For Thought” blog: Conger, a blogger and strategist with the World Wildlife Fund, reports on two recent food conferences, writing, “Most everyone agreed that the United States should lead a global effort to reform the way food is produced, traded and disseminated, from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs whose latest report calls for renewed U.S. leadership on food.” He continues, “That the U.S. should lead is one thing, how we’ll do it is another,” and he presents a few ideas that “stood out [as] actionable in the near term”: “Scaling and sharing farming practices,” “[i]ncreas[ing] agricultural research and development,” and investing in the future (5/28).
  • Helene Gayle, Chicago Council On Global Affair’s “Global Food For Thought” blog: “In the face of such emergencies [as volatile food prices, natural disasters and human conflict,] ensuring food and nutrition security requires a new framework that is comprehensive, effective, coordinated and efficient,” Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, writes. “The challenge we face is an opportunity for the U.S. to lead, and President Obama’s food aid reform proposal demonstrates that leadership,” she continues, adding, “There is still a vital role for U.S. commodities in places where food is not available or places where purchasing food locally would disrupt markets. However, the U.S. response must be flexible when addressing emergencies, chronic hunger and undernutrition — our tools and programs must put first the needs of the farmers and hungry populations we seek to help” (5/28).