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Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Proposed Food Aid Reform

The following is a summary of an editorial and an opinion piece addressing proposed reform to the U.S. food aid program contained in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request.

  • The Economist: “Since America began donating surplus wheat, corn meal, vegetable oil and other farm commodities to the world’s hungry six decades ago, the program has been captured by an ‘iron triangle’ of farm interests, shippers and voluntary organizations, with plenty of help from Congress,” the editorial states and describes how the program currently works. “The White House proposed big changes in its recent budget plan, but these fall short of an end to rules tying aid to American interests,” The Economist continues, adding, “Monetization within Food for Peace would be scrapped,” but “[i]n a sop to domestic farmers, at least 55 percent of funds would still be used for the purchase and transport of American produce.” The editorial states, “Now Congress, which approves budgets, must decide what to do,” and concludes, “But this would not be America if congressional turf fights did not loom, pitting farm-committee members against colleagues who oversee foreign affairs” (4/27).
  • James Bovard, Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration is pushing reforms that could slightly reduce the number of Third World farmers bushwhacked by American food dumped into their marketplaces,” Bovard, a former World Bank consultant, writes. “But there is scant enthusiasm in Washington for any fix of a program that is beloved by many special interests,” he continues. Bovard provides a history of the Food for Peace program, launched in 1954 during the Eisenhower administration, outlines proposed reform to the program, and writes, “Not surprisingly, the administration’s proposals are facing staunch opposition from the farm lobby, relief organizations addicted to manna from USAID, and the merchant-marine lobby.” He concludes, “The resistance that the Obama administration’s modest reforms are facing epitomizes how Congress and special interests don’t care how much harm food aid does abroad” (4/29).