Ok – so I’ve been living in a cave (the cave of PhD write up) but even so can’t believe I was completely unaware of this. It seems like very big aid news, and in need of more coverage in the aid blogs:
These next 48 hours [the blog post is from two days ago] are critical for advancing reform of US international food aid, which I have blogged about previously. Short version: because current rules essentially demand that we provide aid in food grown in the US via government subsidy, our current aid regime wastes money, delays delivery of aid by weeks, lines the pockets of agribusiness and big shipping, often undermines farmers in the Global South, and leaves 2-4 million people starving who could otherwise be helped.
The basic answer is to allow food to be procured locally; the Obama Administration’s budget proposal did just that, and was given the back of the hand by special interests in the Senate. The Senate bill, which passed the Upper House, did add some extra money for local procurement, but fell far short of what was really needed. The pathetic justifications offered by the agribusiness and shipping lobbies show just how weak their policy position is.
And now — maybe the House to the rescue. The House? The current House? You gotta be kidding, right?
Wrong. The hero here is House International Relations Committee chair Ed Royce, a very conservative Republican from Orange County, who studied the way food aid rules work, and got outraged. That’s hardly odd for a conservative, because farm policy represents about the clearest case of government waste we have. It didn’t hurt, of course, that allowing for local procurement would also take much food aid from the Agriculture Committee and give it to the IR committee, but that really wasn’t what was happening here: this is an outrage and everyone who looks at it realizes it.
Read more at the link above, and if you live in the states, lobby your congressman! This matters.