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Would you turn down $45 mil if you knew it was hurting the poor?

Foodaid_4

CARE, the well-known and respected development organization, says, "You betcha."  CARE made international headlines last week when they chose to reject a form of US food aid commonly known as monetization.  The NY Times took a stab and explaining the way this type of food aid works:

Under the system, the United States government buys the goods from American agribusinesses, ships them overseas, mostly on American-flagged carriers, and then donates them to the aid groups as an indirect form of financing. The groups sell the products on the market in poor countries and use the money to finance their antipoverty programs. It amounts to about $180 million a year.

Experts agree that this type of food aid undermines local producers and its not an efficient use of resources.  We applaud CARE for their bold decision!  We can also act boldly by advocating for fairness in our food aid policy under the 2007 farm bill.  Instead of using food that is shipped directly from the US to feed people in emergency situation, we believe there should be flexibility to use cash purchases to buy food directly from local and regional producers.  In fact, the Bush Administration supports this change and asked for 25% of food aid resources to be available for this purpose in the 2007 farm bill.  Let's hope that the Senate adopts this important reform when they consider the bill in a few weeks.

Read more about CARE's decision here.

 

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Comments

Care's decision was a courageous one, and one that will hopefully not cause them to decrease their programming as they figure out how to make up for the shortfall in funding. The recent spate of articles outlining Care's decision do a good job of describing how monetized food aid can negatively impact local markets. But the articles miss a couple of other reasons why the Bush proposal to provide 25 percent of food aid funding in cash makes good sense. First, in almost all instances, food aid has to be shipped on US carriers. But US carriers are notoriously expensive, soaking up a good deal of the money allocated to food aid programming. The result is less bang for the US taxpayer buck (not to mention less food aid for people in need). Second, shipping food aid from the United States is a slow. This is an especially critical problem during times of conflict. Allowing aid agencies to buy food aid locally can help to decrease the time it takes to get food to people in desperate need of it. Hopefully Care's bold move and the Administration's thoughtful proposal will help to change the direction of US food aid.

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