WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations met Wednesday to discuss "American Food Aid: Why Reform Matters." Witnesses at the hearing, including USAID's Director of the Office of Food for Peace Dina Esposito, all emphasized their support for in-kind food aid, but requested increased use of local and regional purchases and cash vouchers, and a need for greater flexibility in using the right tools at the right time.
"USA Rice doesn't oppose a food assistance policy that provides varied solutions to hunger, but we do not support the elimination of in-kind food aid," said Jim Guinn, USA Rice's vice president of international promotion. "We support flexibility in food aid responses but believe it is more than sufficient in the 2014 Farm Bill. In fact, food aid has more than 50 percent flexibility in the current Farm Bill, up from about 20 percent in the 2008 Farm Bill."
Food aid may be distributed directly to target populations, especially in the case of emergencies, or may be sold in the targeted country with the proceeds used to support programs and activities of Private Voluntary Organizations. The sale and use of proceeds for these purposes is called "monetization."
"Monetization can be a highly effective means of investing in food security, and we believe USAID already has full flexibility through their International Disaster Assistance account to use cash as needed," says Rebecca Bratter, USA Rice's food aid advisor. "The American food aid system works, and there is no need for additional reform."
The legislative battle to keep food in food assistance is likely to continue for the long term, and USA Rice, working in conjunction with other commodity groups and on Capitol Hill, will continue to prove that in-kind food aid is an essential piece of U.S. foreign policy.
Guinn added, "Our farmers take great pride in providing decades-long assistance to vulnerable populations throughout the world. The use of U.S. commodities in food aid guarantees that a safe, high quality, and nutritious product is being provided to recipients, given that the U.S. food safety system is one of the strongest in the world."
Contact: Sarah Moran (703) 236-1457