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Reform To U.S. International Food Aid Program Likely With Growing Bipartisan Support

“I remain hopeful about nurturing at least a few seeds of bipartisanship this week as representatives from the House and Senate begin to negotiate a new farm bill,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, writes in a Politico opinion piece. “What brings us together from across the aisle is our commitment to reform an outdated international food aid program, which is neither as effective as our humanitarian impulses demand nor as efficient as our taxpayers expect,” he states. “[S]ince 1954, the Food for Peace program has fed more than one billion people around the world,” but “this program is in urgent need of modernization,” he adds. Instead of delivering food aid through monetization, a process wherein “the U.S. government buys domestic agricultural products and donates them to charitable organizations, which sell them in developing countries,” Engel writes, “A new focus on purchasing food locally in the developing world would ensure that more hungry people are fed faster.” In addition, “buying food from farmers in poor countries would also support local economies, enabling entire countries to pull themselves out of poverty so they won’t need our aid in the future,” he writes. “Both Democrats and Republicans believe that we can and will do better,” Engel states, adding, “This growing support makes clear that comprehensive food aid reform is not a matter of if but of when” (10/31).