Senate Approves Modest Changes To U.S. Food Aid Program In Farm Bill

“The Senate on Monday voted to make modest changes to the way international food aid is delivered, a much scaled-back version of an overhaul proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this year,” the Associated Press reports. “Senators adopted an amendment by voice vote to a wide-ranging farm bill Monday that would slightly boost dollars to buy locally-grown food close to needy areas abroad,” the news agency writes (Jalonick, 6/3). The approved amendment would “allocate only $60 million a year for the purchase of food aid under the Food for Peace program in or near the country for which it is destined,” Reuters notes, adding, “This was an increase of only $20 million” from the $40 million included in the bill (Abbott, 6/3).

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), would represent a small portion of the FY 2014 total of $1.8 billion proposed by the Obama administration for U.S. food aid programs (.pdf), the AP notes. “The Obama administration in April proposed shifting almost half of the international food aid money to more flexible accounts that allow for cash purchases abroad, saying such a move would be more efficient,” according to the news agency. However, “that proposal has so far fallen flat in Congress, where farm-state lawmakers who oversee agriculture spending and the farm bill have been reluctant to shift money away from American farmers,” the AP writes, adding, “Aid groups that supported the changes praised the amendment but said they would like to see more significant overhaul” (6/3).