WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the United States remains one of the largest donors toward efforts of poverty alleviation, it is critical to maintain a foreign aid budget that is in sync with its massive GDP. However, it is also important to ensure that foreign assistance is conducted in an efficient manner, producing better results for each dollar spent. The 2014 Food Aid Reform included in this year’s Farm Bill tackles this issue in particular.
The 2014 Farm Bill includes some key cost-and time-saving changes to ensure that U.S. food aid programs are able to respond to famine and emergency situations in the best way possible. With these changes U.S. foreign assistance will reach many more people affected by food insecurity and extreme poverty.
Some of the changes include allowing the international food aid program to use locally grown products. The 2014 Farm bill establishes the implementation of the permanent local procurement program, and authorizes 80 million dollars toward it, subject to appropriations. It also allows the USAID to open another facility overseas to better manage its food distribution operations and its response to emergency situations. Moreover, changes to the bill will allow NGOs working under the Food for Peace Title II program to have more flexibility when selling U.S. commodities abroad to finance non-emergency programs.
The Food for Peace Title II program, which is authorized by this bill, reached more than 32 million people with emergency food aid in 2012. It was also the vehicle to allocate 10.2 million dollars to fund efforts in combatting the issues at the heart of chronicle world hunger. In addition, thanks to this program seven million low-income children participated in free school feeding, which for some represents their only daily meal.
In addition to these changes, the farm bill allocates normal funding usually provided for food aid. “for fiscal year 2014 Congress appropriated $1.47 billion for PL 480 Title II, which provides U.S.-sourced food aid to alleviate hunger and its causes, $1.8 billion for International Disaster Assistance (IDA), some of which is used to buy food aid overseas, this is $1.2 billion more than the President’s request for those two accounts.”
These allocations will ensure that countries in the midst of war or emergency situations such as Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, will receive much needed funding for hunger alleviation. Moreover, the bill allocates at least 350 million of the Title II for program for development-focused food aid programs. This ensures that during emergencies other programs focused on cutting child-nutrition, to improve agricultural productivity and make communities more self-reliant are not cut or shorted.
The provisions included in the Farm bill go a long way in strengthening the U.S. international food aid program. However, it will require a concerted effort and greater coordination between NGO’s, USAID and other foreign aid programs to generate more efficiency and transparency.
Sources: Huffington Post, AgriPulse, Global Food For Thought