Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

David Beckmann: "Now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future"

Chili is an all-year crop that provides an alternative and sustainable source of income to Kenyan farmers due to its resiliency to drought. To expand the productivity of chili farmers in Siaya County, a USAID project in Kenya is engaging in new partnerships with farmer/producer organizations to enhance access to credit that would enable farmers to obtain high-quality farm inputs and adopt modern farming methods. (Feed the Future/Antony Okonji)

Feed the Future, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) initiative to address global hunger and poverty, is now four years old. It is, by all accounts, a success: its programs have helped 7 million smallholder farmers and saved 12.5 million children from hunger and poverty, according to its recently released progress report. Yesterday, at the Feed the Future forum— a Washington, D.C., gathering of global leaders from the public and private sectors —Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann lauded the initiative and U.S. leadership in work to end hunger. “With 842 million people around the world still going hungry every day, now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future," he said, adding that it is a "model of effectiveness."

But Beckmann also warned that Congress is currently poised to undo progress that has been made in addressing worldwide hunger and poverty.

A little-known provision slipped into a recent House bill increases something called "cargo preference," which effectively raises the transportation costs for food aid. This move benefits a few foreign-owned shipping companies, but takes away $75 million per year from U.S. international food-aid programs. This would limit the food aid our nation can provide in times of crisis.

“Now is not the time to reverse reforms to U.S. food-aid programs,” Beckmann said.

“We won some reform in this year’s farm bill, but in other legislation, the subsidized shippers managed to increase their subsidies at the expense of 1.4 million fewer people receiving food aid every year,” Beckmann continued. “Recently, the shipping lobby managed to convince the House of Representatives to increase their subsidy by directly taking away food aid from another 2 million hungry people. It is unconscionable to steal food from 3.4 million people hungry just to give more subsidies to three of the world’s largest shipping companies.”

While U.S. food aid does a lot of good in the world, requiring that nearly all the food commodities come from this country and be shipped by a few U.S.-flagged ships is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, but puts the profits of shipping conglomerates before the needs of millions of people suffering from hunger and living in dire poverty.

Read Bread for the World's press release on the Feed the Future forum for more on Beckmann's remarks, and visit blog.bread.org/food-aid/ for updates on food-aid reform and cargo preference.


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