Vote Expected this Week

Washington, D.C. With the House of Representatives scheduled to consider a farm bill, H.R. 1947 (FARRM Act), this week, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, announced their intention to offer an amendment to reform U.S. international food aid to feed more people, more quickly, at a lower cost.

Royce said:  “By enacting these bipartisan, commonsense food aid reforms, we can do more with less – we can feed more starving people, more quickly, at a lower cost.  We must replace the current, expensive, and time-consuming mandate of shipping U.S.-grown food around the globe on the few U.S.-flagged vessels still in existence, with tools that provide more flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness.  And we can do this in a bipartisan way.” 

Engel said:  “One of the key problems with the current system is that it takes too long to deliver US-grown food aid – an average of 130 days. By purchasing food in the recipient country or region, we can cut that time in half, and in the process, get food to starving people before it’s too late. Hunger pangs shouldn’t be subject to shipping schedules.  Sometimes it seems that we lose sight of why we have a food aid program in the first place – It’s to prevent men, women and children in the developing world from starving to death.”

The Royce-Engel amendment would provide the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with flexibility to use up to 45% of food aid funds to purchase food in or closer to recipient countries, and to provide cash transfers or food vouchers. This effort will save $215 million annually and enable the U.S. to reach an additional four million hungry or starving people in crisis areas around the world.

The Royce-Engel amendment also reforms the inefficient practice of “monetization,” by which the U.S. Government buys agricultural commodities from domestic sources, ships them overseas on U.S.-flagged vessels, and donates them to nongovernmental or private voluntary organizations, which in turn sell them in developing countries and use the proceeds to finance other development programs.  According to the Government Accountability Office, monetization is “inefficient and can cause adverse market impacts” and has led to loss of $219 million over three years.  Placing a cap on monetization is expected to save an estimated $30 million per year, which could feed 800,000 more people.

The Royce-Engel amendment would cut mandatory spending by a total of $150 million, resulting in deficit reduction.

More information on bipartisan food aid reform efforts is available HERE, including a food aid reform fact sheet.