Food Aid Funding Fight in Future

May 09, 2017
Vital food aid
WASHINGTON, DC – The recently passed Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill included $2 billion for food aid programs that the U.S. rice industry supports, but signals from the Trump Administration indicate American humanitarian efforts may not exist in the future.

The FY 2017 bill funded Food for Peace programs at $1.466 billion, including a one-time increase for famine crises of $134 million, and $202 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program for the remainder of FY 2017.

Last month, USA Rice joined more than 90 agriculture and humanitarian organizations in sending a letter to House and Senate appropriators requesting they, at a minimum, maintain FY2016 funding levels and U.S. leadership in fighting against famine and global malnutrition.

“According to the World Food Programme, 795 million people, or one in nine, are currently suffering from chronic hunger, while one in three suffer from malnutrition daily,” the letter read.  “Now is the time for America to continue our leadership role in the world by showing full support for Food for Peace, a program that has touched 3 billion lives…and the McGovern-Dole Feeding program which fosters knowledge through food.”

Meanwhile President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint, ironically-called “The Skinny Budget,” actually zeros out the McGovern-Dole programs, and many expect Food for Peace to also come under fire from the Administration.

“We are happy with the commitment shown by Congress, not only to our moral duty to help those in need, but to our farmers who grow the food vital for these aid programs,” said Blake Gerard a Missouri rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice Farmers.  “But it seems like we’re all going to have to work hard to demonstrate the value of these programs to President Trump.”

Gerard said the rice industry especially wants to keep food aid programs going since they have worked so hard to create enriched rice that solves many malnutrition problems, is affordable, long-lasting, and accepted by those in need.

“Rice is the most widely-used commodity in current food aid programs for a reason,” he said. “President Trump can score a win-win by continuing to help those in need, and using U.S. products to do it.”

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