Americans should continue to supply the commodities.
By Johnny Broussard
Director Industry Affairs & Communications
USA Rice Federation
USA Rice Federation strongly opposes President Barack Obama’s proposed budget changes for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 operation of the United States’ humanitarian overseas food aid program, known as Food for Peace (FFP) or P.L. 480 Title II. In Fiscal Year 2012, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchased 165,300 metric tons of U.S. rice, valued at nearly $90 million, for use in overseas food aid, including Food for Peace.
Prior Congresses have rejected previous budget requests to take a portion of Food for Peace funding from USDA and give it to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The FY 2014 proposal is a more far-reaching concept because it would transfer the program’s funding from USDA to USAID.
Proposed Purchasing Changes
If, in FY 2014, the president’s proposal were authorized by Congress, instead of Food for Peace commodities all being purchased in the United States and grown by American farmers, no less than 55 percent of them, such as rice, would be procured domestically. Consequently, however, 45 percent of Food for Peace commodity procurement could be obtained overseas, not from American farmers.
More alarming, after FY 2014, the president does not make it clear how or from whom Food for Peace commodities would be purchased or if they all would be American-grown and American-sourced. Using a public bidding process, the USDA purchases U.S.-grown commodities, such as rice, to be donated through Food for Peace to the malnourished and hungry overseas. USAID administers Food for Peace food aid distribution abroad.
USAID already operates under the separate authority of the international disaster assistance (IDA) program, which includes allowing the agency to use U.S. funding to acquire food aid from overseas sources or to provide cash or vouchers to recipients. There is no need to convert Food for Peace into an expanded version of USAID’s IDA program. If USAID needs more funding for food aid in its IDA program, then that request could be submitted to Congress for consideration, without having to take the funding from the Food for Peace program.
‘From The American People’
Food for Peace works well. Since its 1954 enactment, Congress has revised Food for Peace to facilitate its efficient, transparent, reliable and accountable operation and to provide highly nutritious commodities that are grown by American farmers. The commodities are processed domestically, transported to, loaded onto ships at, and shipped from American ports.
Moving Food for Peace funding to USAID in no way guarantees or ensures that these highly nutritious commodities will be any more nutritious or available, or handled any more efficiently, transparently, reliably or accountably than they are through Food for Peace.
Americans fund Food for Peace. Food for Peace containers with the American flag on them say, “From The American People.” Food for Peace commodities all should continue to be procured in America using American-grown commodities.
Please visit www.usarice.com.