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Food aid provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill
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  1. Food aid provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill Stephanie Mercier Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

  2. Backward look at 2002 farm bill • Established McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program • Started as pilot program by President Clinton in 2000 • $100 million mandatory funds for FY2003-subject to annual appropriations thereafter • Streamlined approval process for Title II program • Increased transportation cap for Food for Progress program • Congress given $73.5 billion in new money (above baseline) over ten years for 2002 farm bill • Trade title got $1.14 billion of that amount (1.5 percent of total) • Food aid got $408 million (0.5 percent of total)

  3. Food aid goals going into 2008 farm bill • Didn’t have much hope for significant injection of mandatory money into food aid programs • Improve targeting and efficiency of U.S. food aid programs • Relied heavily on recommendations of 2007 GAO food aid report • Establish safe box for non-emergency funding for Title II • Update statutory language for Title II to reflect how program operates now as opposed to during the 1950’s • Establish pilot program to evaluate effectiveness of local and regional procurement activities

  4. Why a pilot program for local and regional procurement (LRP)? • Despite the conviction of many that LRP is indisputably a superior way to deliver food aid, no such comprehensive study exists • Pilot is effort to determine under what circumstances LRP is effective and where and when it is not • Given the strong support in Congress for in-kind commodity donations as food aid, likeliest outcome is new account for LRP within USAID, separate from Title II funding

  5. Political support for current form of U.S. food aid • In-kind assistance broadly supported by U.S. agriculture • Coalition of farm groups, food processors, shipping interests, NGO’s • U.S. public supports tangible aid to developing countries • American instinct is to provide items actually to be used by people in need • In Katrina aftermath in 2005, US Govt and NGO’s had to request that people send cash rather than food, water, clothing, etc. • Possible loss of broad-based political support if shift to cash assistance, especially if sent to countries or regions with reputations of corrupt governance • Face potential net decline in ability to address humanitarian goals if go to a fully cash program • More efficient per dollar spent, but significant probability of fewer dollars available overall • Cash account might be more vulnerable to diversion to other purposes in Congressional appropriations process—has never happened with Title II as in-kind program

  6. Key successes in 2008 farm bill-Title II provisions • Provided more resources for pre-positioning of food aid shipments • Allowed PVO’s to take larger share of funds as cash to cover overhead expenses (Section 202(e)) • Authorized USAID to use Title II funds to conduct monitoring and oversight of projects, bolster FEWSNET coverage, upgrade computer system • Consolidated reporting requirements • Required agencies to review quality specifications, potential use of new products • Established safe box for non-emergency assistance • Provided additional resources for `Farmer-to-Farmer’ program

  7. MAP from FEWSNET website

  8. Successes of 2008 farm bill-other programs • Reformed operation of Emerson Trust • Eliminated maximum tonnage level • Required to treat cash and commodities interchangeably • Clarified release and management rules • Provided $84 million in mandatory money for McGovern-Dole program • Provided $60 million for pilot program for local and regional procurement

  9. Next steps? • Don’t foresee additional changes to U.S. food aid programs before next farm bill in 2012, barring completion of Doha Round agreement and ratification by Congress • Expect heavy demand for food aid in next few years, given fragile condition of global economy • Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to address reform of U.S. agricultural development programs during 111th Congress—no direct impact on food aid, but they are complementary activities

  10. School feeding program in the Dominican Republic