U.S. Food Aid Reform Underway

NEW YORK - Apr 14/14 - IRIN -- Efforts to change the way the US government distributes roughly US$2 billion in international food aid each year achieved some successes in the recently enacted Agriculture Act of 2014 -- commonly referred to as the Farm Bill -- but the food aid mechanism used by the world's largest donor continues to prioritize the needs of US commercial interests.

Changes include: a pilot project in the 2008 Farm Bill that tested the feasibility of local and regional procurement of food aid during emergencies has been transformed into a regularized program that will provide $80 million for local and regional procurement (LRP) each year. In addition, the new Farm Bill increases from 13% to 20% the percentage of funding in the largest food aid program, Food for Peace (or Title II), that can be spent on non-emergency programs with cash-based resources or commodities rather than through the much-criticized vehicle of monetized food aid.

Monetization is a major flaw in the US food aid system, in which US grain is donated to NGOs and other "cooperating sponsors", who then sell the food in recipient countries to raise money for their programs. Almost all other major aid agencies have given up the practice because selling the donated food distorts local markets, and is detrimental to long-term food security.

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