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Stakeholders Must Work Together On U.S. Food Aid Reform

“Congress should put aside partisanship and turf protection as it considers bold changes to a decades-old and increasingly inefficient international food aid program,” former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who chaired the Agriculture and Foreign Relations committees, and former Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), who served as Senate majority leader, write in a Washington Times opinion piece. Noting “[t]he Obama administration’s 2014 budget proposed overhauling the Food for Peace program, building on a similar reform proposal from the George W. Bush administration to reduce high administrative costs and thereby reach more hungry people,” they state, “U.S. global food assistance provides vital humanitarian and emergency assistance to people facing famine, natural disasters or conflict. It is a central to U.S. leadership toward peace and security.”

“Amid economic and budgetary realities, it is inevitable that some will question the role of the United States in global affairs at any level, extending even to U.S. humanitarian programs,” Lugar and Daschle continue. “U.S. food aid is a key component of the U.S. national security strategy,” and “[b]eyond the national security imperative, we strongly believe that no global superpower that claims to possess the moral high ground can afford to relinquish its leadership in addressing global hunger,” they write. “Even in the worst of times, the United States remains a wealthy nation with interests in every corner of the globe,” the authors state, concluding, “Stakeholders and vested interests on all sides — inside and outside government — should work together cooperatively toward reforms now. To do so would be participating in a victory of cost savings, stability in aid programs, greater flexibility and efficiency, enhancement of self-sufficiency in some of the most desperate regions of the world, and an appreciation of U.S. leadership in the world” (5/1).