60 posts categorized "Food Aid"
When it comes to saving lives, faithful advocates and Bread for the World staff spare no energy. Faithful advocacy continues to build the momentum to reform our government’s food-aid programs and bring hope and help to millions of people in need. This week’s large-scale advocacy has resulted in a victory that is worth celebrating.
Late yesterday, the House of Representatives began debate on its version of the fiscal year 2015 agricultural appropriations bill. Included in the bill was a vital amendment to provide funding for the USDA Local and Regional Purchase (LRP) program. This would help more people receive U.S. food aid at no additional cost. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39), who has been a champion in the House for food-aid reform, led the bipartisan amendment.
The LRP program was reauthorized at $80 million in the in the 2014 farm bill. Bread for the World members advocated for the LRP program, which would allow USDA the option to buy food close to the source of need rather than shipping lifesaving resources from overseas, which can take up to 14 weeks.
Bread learned about the LRP amendment during our annual Lobby Day on Tuesday when Royce spoke to Bread for the World members thanking them for their work to reform food aid and to receive an award from Bread for his work to reform food-aid programs during the farm bill debate last year. Yesterday, we emailed an action alert to our members, and calls began flowing into congressional offices urging House members to support Royce’s amendment that would provide minimal funding for LRP at $10 million.
It appeared the amendment passed by a voice vote when offered by Royce, but a hold was called, which meant a recorded vote would be required. The groundwork had been laid the previous day when Bread members visited the offices of hundreds of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to advocate about the importance of U.S. food aid and many more across the country called in to lawmakers’ Washington offices as part of a virtual Lobby Day. Just before the recorded vote, Bread staff followed up with urgent phone calls and emails to House offices urging them to support the Royce amendment.
Cheers erupted in the Bread offices when the vote count of 223 to 198 was announced. This vote is the latest in a series showing bipartisan support for food-aid reforms. Late last month, Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), offered an amendment to the Senate version of agricultural appropriations that passed out of committee with an additional $35 million for food-aid reform efforts.
If the final bill passes later this week, and the Senate version moves through its process, these bills will be conferenced (reconciled between the two chambers). However, the spending bill still has a long way to go before Oct. 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. The House will continue to debate, with a final vote expected at a later time.
We are grateful for the advocacy Bread for the World members continue to provide in support of reforms and adequate funding that can help save millions more lives. We encourage you to call your representative and thank him/her if he/she voted for the Royce amendmen,t or express your disappointment. You can see how they voted here.
Photo: Bread for the World staff make phone calls and send emails to congressional offices in support of an amendment that would fund local and regional purchase. Washington, D.C. (Eric Mitchell)
Update: The Royce amendment to fund passed by a vote of 223 Yeas to 198 Nays. Thank you for your advocacy.
Bread for the World and several of its partner organizations sent a letter to House members today, urging them to include the Royce amendment in the 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800).
Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39) is introducing an amendment to the bill to ensure there is money for more efficient food-aid programs that can reach more people, in a more timely manner— including funding for local and regional purchase programs.
The full text of the letter is below.
The below organizations write in support of Congressman Ed Royce’s amendment to provide $10 million for the USDA Local and Regional Procurement Program. This program was permanently authorized in the recently passed 2014 farm bill, and would provide more flexible programming to compliment existing food aid programs, especially the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.
USDA analysis of the Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) Pilot Project created in the 2008 farm bill has shown that LRP practices typically enable food assistance to be delivered more quickly, at considerable savings, with the ultimate benefit of reaching larger numbers of vulnerable people. LRP also generates important developmental impacts by spurring local economic activity and helping form and strengthen local markets.
Funding local and regional procurement improves the long-term sustainability of school-feeding programs supported by McGovern-Dole. U.S. support for LRP can help countries make a transition to national ownership by reducing reliance on U.S.-donated commodities and operating their programs using their own local resources.
With limited resources available, this amendment ensures that our food aid dollars reach a greater number of people while using tax payer dollars efficiently. LRP enjoys broad bipartisan support and is considered important to the broader food aid reform effort. Failing to fund the LRP program would be a major setback to the food aid reform effort. We urge you to vote in favor of the Royce Amendment.
World Food Program USA
American Jewish World Service
Bread for the World
Church World Service
The Borgen Project
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Save the Children
The vote is expected later this evening, and we need faithful advocates to act! Call your representative at 800-826-3688 and urge him or her to support the Royce amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800). If you are on Twitter, please send the same message and tag your member in a tweet.
Lutheran Development Service distributes food to people affected by drought in Swaziland in 2004. Many distributions of U.S. food-aid items are carried out by private relief and development organizations, many of them supported by U.S. churches. Today, Rep. Ed Royce is introducing an amendment to make sure there is money for efficient food-aid programs that will reach more people, faster and at no additional cost. (Stephen H. Padre)
Update: The Royce amendment to fund passed by a vote of 223 Yeas to 198 Nays. Thank you for your advocacy.
By Ryan Quinn
Yesterday, during Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day, hundreds of advocates walked the halls of Congress and urged their legislators to enact food-aid reform and immigration reform. Our efforts moved us one step closer to reaching our ultimate goal of ending hunger by 2030, but there is still more work to be done!
Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39) is introducing an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill to ensure there is money for more efficient food-aid programs that can reach more people, in a timelier manner— including funding for local and regional purchase programs. This amendment will be on the House floor today!
We need you to call your representative at 800-826-3688 and urge him or her to support the Royce amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800). This amendment will fund money for local and regional purchase programs, allowing our international food aid to help more people, faster and at no additional cost. Again, this amendment is coming up for a vote today, so please take action now—it’s quick, easy, and will make a huge difference!
Ryan Quinn is Bread for the World's senior international policy analyst.
It seems like it should be an easy decision, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), is undecided on whether to increase cargo preference under a provision, tucked into a Coast Guard bill, that would increase profits to foreign-owned shipping companies, or ensure 2 million hungry people receive food they need to survive.
Faithful advocates across the country need to speak up now.
Rockefeller is the chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which is writing its version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill. The House has already passed its version of the legislation, but it included a harmful provision that would increase, from 50 to 75 percent, the amount of food aid shipped from the United States on U.S.-flagged ships. As a result, the cost of shipping food aid would increase by at least $75 million, and, as a result, 2 million fewer hungry people would be reached.
In an interview published in Politico today, Sen. Rockefeller said, “I’m just flat-out undecided.” His concerns, Politico reported, center on issues of military readiness and claims that the shipping industry needs the business. Experts in the field of agricultural cargo preference and food security have publically stated that there is no evidence to back up claims from the shipping industry that jobs or military readiness would be affected.
What evidence does show is that increasing cargo preference would limit already-scarce resources used to combat global food insecurity, especially during periods of crises. Harming a program that spreads American goodwill globally and saves millions of lives just to line the pockets of a few largely foreign-owned shipping companies makes no sense. Ryan Quinn, Bread for the World’s senior policy analyst, has said it is a boondoggle - that it is not only a waste of time and money, but goes against our nation's values.
“We have fought so hard for reforms that will bring lifesaving aid to millions, all the while saving taxpayer dollars,” Quinn said today. “Why should those dollars instead go to subsidize shipping companies? It makes no sense to me. And the argument that increasing cargo-preference restrictions would support ‘military readiness’ is not supported by the facts.”
In a letter to Congress last year, the U.S. Department of Defense asserted that the subsidized vessels in question are not useful to the military. In fact, many of these ships are old, inefficient, and ill-suited to carry thousands of tons of food aid thousands of miles around the world.
Quinn said that he was pleased with the bipartisan support he has seen around food aid. Just this week, Sens. Corker and Coons introduced the Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421), which would provide up to 9 million more people with lifesaving aid at no additional cost by using taxpayer dollars more efficiently. The legislation would accomplish many of the requests included in the Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters, Reforming U.S. Food Aid. Bread members visiting Washington, D.C., next week will be asking their senators to co-sponsor the bill as part of our annual Lobby Day.
“Increasing cargo preference could undo all that we have gained, and we must hold our leaders accountable,” said Quinn.
Call your senator today at 800-826-3688 and tell him or her to oppose any increase in transportation costs for food aid. Share the picture above on your Twitter or Facebook page, and visit bread.org/foodaid to sign our petition. Millions of lives should not be sacrificed to subsidize shipping companies!
Read more about S. 2421, the authorization bill to reform U.S. food aid released this week.
Rev. Dave Buerstetta blesses an offering of letters at the Woodridge United Methodist church outside of Chicago, Ill. Assisting him are Jason Shubert (l) and Tim Waynick. (Patti Cash)
Rev. Dave Buerstetta of Woodridge United Methodist Church in Chicago, Ill., recently added his name to a letter asking his senator to protect food aid. We asked him why he thought it was important for the faith community to be part of the conversation on food aid with Congress. Here is what he said:
Loving God with our whole selves and loving our neighbors as ourselves requires seeking justice. Seeking justice requires trying to change the cultural systems that make, and keep, people poor or hungry or oppressed. So seeking justice – transforming systems to better emulate the Reign of God on earth, for which we pray every single week – requires advocacy.
We have some neighbors who are hungry. We have other neighbors who are members of Congress with the power to keep 2 million more neighbors from becoming hungry. Of course we should talk with members of Congress about this! We cannot let ourselves be scared off from the vital work of justice advocacy simply because doing so means engaging in the political process. That's how systems are changed.
In other words, in addition to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, we must also seek to be the voice of Jesus in the world, speaking with and for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. That is why I added my name to the letter; that is why I hope you will too.
Buerstetta practices what he preaches. The letter to his Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asking him to protect food aid for 2 million people is an example of seeking justice and loving our neighbor. As a leader in Congress, Sen. Durbin can influence policy that affects how much food the United States can deliver to people in need overseas — and as a constituent, Buerstetta can influence Sen.Durbin.
Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would decrease the amount of assistance the U.S. can give while increasing profits for shipping companies. The Senate is now writing its version of the bill, and we are asking senators that any legislation to increase transportation costs for shipping food aid be stripped from the bill. Several senators have been targeted as having particular influence at this time. We are asking faith leaders from Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia to urge their senators to protect U.S. food aid. The letters will be delivered in person on Tuesday, June 10.
You can read more about Rev. Buerstetta’s work in the Nov. 2012 edition of Bread for the World’s newsletter.
Rick Steves, television and radio personality, travel expert, and longtime Bread for the World member, wrote an opinion piece on U.S. food aid that was published in The Seattle Times yesterday. In his guest contribution, titled "Protect U.S. food aid from the shipping industry," Steves, a resident of Washington state, asks Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to protect food aid. He also calls on Washington voters to support her efforts to do so.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that included a provision that would increase the cost of shipping food aid by at least $75 million. This increase would mean 2 million fewer hungry people would benefit from lifesaving food-aid programs. The bill is now being considered by the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Cantwell is a member. Bread for the World is asking the committee members to strip any provisions that would increase transportation costs for food aid.
A frequent traveler, Steves has a perspective on global hunger that motivates him to advocate that U.S. food aid be made more efficient. In his guest post, he writes:
I care about this issue in part because of my work as a travel writer. Having spent a third of my adult life overseas, it’s clear to me: While we are a compassionate society, we can be oblivious to the consequences that some of our choices have on struggling people. Sure, we have our economic challenges. But 90 percent of humanity would love to have our crisis. Half of humanity is struggling to survive on $2 a day. When you travel, you understand that’s a real crisis.
I believe that, even if motivated only by greed and national security interests, if U.S. citizens know what’s good for ourselves and our country, we don’t want to be extremely wealthy in a world with lots of hunger. U.S. food aid, which saves millions of lives each year, is vital in combating this challenge. And making every food-aid dollar count is a responsible use of taxpayer money, a moral imperative and in America’s interest.
Read the piece in its entirety on The Seattle Times website.
Bread for the World is asking Washington state faith leaders to sign a letter to Sen. Cantwell asking her to protect U.S. food aid. The letter, addressed to Cantwell and other members of the Senate Commerce Committee, will be delivered June 10 during Bread for the World's Lobby Day.
Learn more about Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming U.S. Food Aid on the Offering of Letters website.
Wealthy shipping companies, mostly foreign-owned, have lobbied for more profit for themselves at the expense of 2 million hungry people, and the House of Representatives has sanctioned it. It’s a boondoggle — it's not only a waste of time and money, it goes against our nation's values.
This subsidy to the world’s largest shipping conglomerates was quietly included as a provision in the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill for fiscal year 2015, which passed by voice vote in the House. The legislation would increase, from 50 to 75 percent, the amount of food aid that must be shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. As a result, the cost of shipping food aid would increase by at least $75 million, and 2 million fewer hungry people would be reached.
This provision has nothing to do with the U.S. Coast Guard and is a blatant attempt by special interests to line their own pockets while more people overseas go hungry.
Cornell University’s Christopher Barrett and Bucknell University’s Erin Lentz expose the level of depravity the shipping lobby has reached in “Highway robbery on the high seas," a recent article in The Hill. In addition to limiting food aid, they state that the legislation would also limit competition and restrict public comment. “These anti-competitive restrictions, which enable much more expensive shipping rates than competitor vessels would charge, generate windfall profits to a few, mainly foreign companies who operate U.S.-flagged vessels through domestic subsidiaries,” they write.
I have been meeting with members of the Senate Commerce Committee, who are writing their version of the bill. Our goal is to strip the provision from the Senate bill in committee. A common argument for increasing cargo preference relies on the idea that not doing so will result in U.S. job losses. Barrett and Lentz point out that earlier reforms, which reduced cargo preference, did not result in any lost jobs. In addition, they write, “this type of indirect subsidy is so inefficient that any job created comes at a taxpayer cost of about $100,000.”
In 2010, Barrett and Lentz were part of a research team that conducted a rigorous peer-reviewed analysis on agricultural cargo preference policy (ACP). Their conclusion was that ACP is not cost effective or efficient, does not increase military readiness, and does not substantially affect the labor market. ACP does, however, squander scare food-aid resources intended to help alleviate hunger.
Opposition to the ACP provision is clearly bipartisan. Organizations as diverse as The Heritage Foundation and The Center for American Progress agree that that increasing cargo preference is a step backward.
I am asking you to sign a petition, which I intend to deliver to Capitol Hill next week. Regional organizers are asking for faith leaders to add their names to sign-on letters targeting some key members on the committee, which they will deliver in person on June 10.
Lives are at stake. We have seen the difference flexibility made after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines and U.S. food aid helped save lives. An estimated 5 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance urgently — after fleeing violence, mothers now fear famine will claim their children. Right now we must not undo the progress made on food-aid reform, nor turn our backs to those in need when we have the means to help.
Ryan Quinn is a senior policy analyst in the government relations department at Bread for the World.
Photo: Lutheran Development Service distributes food to people affected by drought in Swaziland in 2004. (Stephen H. Padre/Bread for the World)
(Left to right): Kay DeBlance, Rebecca Walker, Aaron Marez and David Ramos of Texas walk through the Russell Senate Office Building on their way to a meeting during Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day. If you can't join us in person for this year's Lobby Day, please support our efforts by pledging to call your members of Congress: www.bread.org/call. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
By Eric Mitchell
Right now, we're at a turning point in the fight to end hunger.
There are two issues — food-aid reform and immigration reform — that are making their way through Congress right now, and decisions made by legislators in the coming weeks could impact our work to end hunger for years to come. Millions of people could be affected. During this critical time, hundreds of Bread members will be gathering in Washington, D.C., for our annual Lobby Day, and urging Congress to do the right thing. But in order to make the most of this opportunity, we need your voice.
We have a real opportunity to advance food-aid reform and immigration reform—two issues that are central to our goal of ending hunger. Here are the messages we’re taking to Congress on Lobby Day:
- Pass immigration reform without delay! Immigration reform will reduce hunger by ensuring immigrants receive fairer wages and work in better conditions. Our Christian faith calls on us to welcome the stranger, and with Congress’ attention already turning to the November elections, the window for a vote on major legislation is closing quickly. Congress must act now to provide a path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
- Reject changes to food aid that hurt the hungry! An obscure provision before Congress would change the transportation requirements for U.S. food aid in a way that would make the process of getting food to people in need slower and more expensive. Two million people would go without lifesaving food aid just to pad the bottom lines of a few powerful shipping companies, and that’s not right. Congress must reject any action that increases transportation costs for food aid and support common sense food-aid reforms.
With hundreds of Bread members coming to Washington just as these issues are being debated in Congress, we have a huge opportunity to effect change. But we need our entire Bread community — including you — to really have an impact. We need to make sure Congress hears a loud chorus of Christian voices.
Help end hunger by raising your voice. You are an important part of Bread for the World and we need your help — your at-home advocacy on June 9 will strengthen our in-person advocacy efforts on June 10.
So what do you say? Will you stand with us at this critical time? This kind of opportunity doesn't come around often. I hope to have you with us.
Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.
Before receiving assistance from the Food for Peace program, Davane Mesa Paulo was struggling with just a hectare of land and a few crops that he grew for food. "Hunger ran away from my house," he said recently. "So people started coming to ask how." (Bita Rodriguez/USAID)
Food-aid reform came out as a winner in yesterday’s Senate Appropriation Committee agriculture bill markup. The 2015 spending bill, which sets funding amounts for the U.S. programs that deliver emergency and humanitarian food assistance, will include $35 million for food-aid reform efforts. The funds would help food aid reach an estimated 200,000 more people in need.
However, the spending bill still has a long way to go before the Oct. 1 deadline – the start of the fiscal year. Once the final bill passes out of the Appropriations Committee, it will then go to the floor for a vote from the full Senate. Finally, if there is normal process, it will be conferenced with the House version of the bill.
Bread for the World and its members are urging Congress to update food-aid policy to better meet the needs of hungry people facing natural disasters, food insecurity and malnutrition, famine, civil strife, and other extraordinary circumstances. Thousands of letters from Christians have already arrived in offices on Capitol Hill, building the momentum for bipartisan efforts to reform food aid— as we saw in yesterday’s vote.
The food-aid amendment was introduced thanks to the efforts of Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Before the committee vote, Sen. Johanns said, “Literally, people live or die by the decision we make here." The vote of 16 ayes to 14 nays was strongly bipartisan. Last minute efforts on the part of grassroots anti-hunger advocates, who made a lot of noise in support of the bill, helped push the amendment forward.
The funds will help replace the practice of monetization — in which aid organizations resell food-aid products in local markets to support development work, but can undercut local farmers in the process. The more flexibility administrators have in implementing Food For Peace, the more efficient the development programs can become, allowing thousands of additional people to better feed themselves and escape hunger. Flexibility in design and implementation also helps us build resilience against future emergencies.
“This is significant and shows that there is a strong desire for reform that crosses party lines,” says Ryan Quinn, senior policy analyst at Bread for the World. “We can build on this,” he said, “but keep in mind that we are also facing cuts if the Senate Commerce Committee includes a cargo-preference provision in a bill they are starting to write.”
The House recently passed a Coast Guard reauthorization bill that included a provision to increase transportation costs for food aid. This would limit the amount of food aid the U.S. could provide, and program costs would come out of Food for Peace funds. We are currently reaching out to faith leaders in committee member’s states and organizing sign-on letters to stop the provision in a Senate bill.
“This was a real win for hungry people and sets us on the right path,” said Quinn. “We should feel good and know our voices are making a difference. But, he cautions, "in a world where 842 million people go to bed hungry every day, and crises situations like Syria and South Sudan are getting worse, we have to keep this momentum going.”
Update, 12:55 p.m., 5/22: By a vote of 16 ayes to 14 nays, the Johanns-Leahy Amendment passed in the appropriations committee markup! Thank you advocates! This is a significant victory, but we must still be vigilant as the bill moves through the committee and the rest of Congress.
URGENT action needed! The Senate Appropriations Committee is considering its fiscal year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill tomorrow morning, and Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) are introducing an amendment to provide $35 million for food-aid reform efforts.
This funding will increase flexibility and improve efficiency of U.S. food aid, allowing this vital assistance to reach more people in a timely manner.
We need your help to reach out to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and ask them to support the Johanns-Leahy amendment.
Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and tell them to vote in favor of the Johanns-Leahy amendment to provide $35 million for flexibility of food aid in the Agriculture Appropriations bill. This funding will help feed an additional 200,000 people in need!
A full list of the appropriators is below; call 800-326-4941 to be connected to the Capitol switchboard.
If you're on Twitter, you can also tweet the appropriators.
Sample tweet: .@SenatorBarb help #foodaid reach more people in need! Support the Johanns-Leahy amendment ow.ly/x7LWH "
Senate Appropriations Committee:
Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby @SenShelbyPress Ranking member
Sen. Mark Begich @SenatorBegich
Sen. Lisa Murkowski @lisamurkowski
Sen. John Boozman @JohnBoozman
Sen. Mark Pryor @SenMarkPryor
Delaware: Sen. Chris Coons @SenCoonsOffice
California: Sen. Diane Feinstein @SenFeinstein
Sen. Richard Durbin @SenatorDurbin
Sen. Mark Kirk @SenatorKirk
Iowa: Sen. Tom Harkin @SenatorHarkin
Indiana: Sen. Dan Coats @SenDanCoats
Louisianna: Sen. Mary Landrieu @SenLandrieu
Kansas: Sen. Jerry Moran @JerryMoran
Kentucky: Sen Mitch McConnell @McConnellPress
Maine: Sen. Susan Collins @SenatorCollins
Maryland: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski @SenatorBarb chair
Mississippi: Sen. Thad Cochran @SenThadCochran
Missouri: Sen. Roy Blunt @RoyBlunt
Montana: Sen. Jon Tester @JonTester
New Hampshire: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen @SenatorShaheen
New Mexico: Sen. Tom Udall @SenatorTomUdall
North Dakota: Sen John Hoeven @SenJohnHoeven
Oregon: Sen. Jeff Merkley @SenJeffMerkley
Rhode Island: Sen. Jack Reed @SenJackReed
South Carolina: Sen. Lindsey Graham @GrahamBlog
South Dakota: Sen. Tim Johnson @SenJohnsonSD
Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander @SenAlexander
Washington: Sen. Patty Murray @PattyMurray
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.