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Opinion Piece, Editorial Address Efforts To Reform U.S. Food Aid Program

The following opinion piece and editorial address the Obama administration’s proposal to reform the Food for Peace program, as well as congressional debate over the proposed changes.

  • Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), The Hill: “Regrettably, the Food for Peace program, which has its roots in the Eisenhower years, is badly showing its age, and is best described as slow, inefficient and wasteful,” Royce and Engel write, adding, “We believe reform of our international food aid is long overdue, and we commend President Obama for proposing substantial reforms as part of his 2014 budget.” They continue, “Food aid reform is not and should not be a partisan issue. Proposals to feed more desperate people faster, and at a lower cost to taxpayers, are simply common sense.” Royce and Engel outline several benefits of a reformed program, writing, “Still, this reform effort faces an uphill fight, being opposed by those with a stake in the current system, including some farmers — despite the fact that food aid accounts for less than one percent of total U.S. food exports.” They conclude, “As we continue to debate food aid reform, we hope that good policy will trump politics, and that the interests of U.S. taxpayers will prevail” (6/18).
  • Miami Herald: The proposed changes to the food aid program “would translate into more people getting fed at no extra cost to American taxpayers,” the editorial writes, adding, “More food for the buck is a win-win — except for entrenched special interests that prefer the inefficient and expensive status quo.” The editorial notes, “In fact, the United States is the only industrialized donor nation that refuses to buy food in bulk from local farmers in crisis areas.” An amendment to the House Farm Bill, offered by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), “would allow USAID to use up to 45 percent of its food-aid money to purchase food abroad, closer to where the need resides or allow vouchers or debit cards to get to those in need to buy the food where they live,” the editorial states, adding, “The effort is expected to deliver $215 million in savings. And the Royce amendment, cosponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) also would apply about $150 million to deficit reduction.” The editorial concludes, “Loosening the rules would deliver more food, more quickly to those most in need at less cost to U.S. taxpayers” (6/18).