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The Battle over the Future of US Food Aid

07:26 EDT 10 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

This article, which examines the future of United States food aid, notes that how food aid will be treated by the Trump administration remains an open question. President Trump, the article continues, has made no secret of his intent to shake up aid spending. His proposed budget would have closed two primary food aid programs, Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole food for education program. The White House earlier this year also considered an executive order that would have required all American food aid to be shipped on U.S. vessels. Congress has pushed back on both the budget and the executive order. Moving forward, interest groups and others are trying to ensure food aid continues. Shipping unions and farming groups both support food aid, as long as it supports their interests. Nongovernmental organizations support continued aid, especially at a time of spiking food needs around the world. Aid groups also want to continue the reforms of recent years, such as eliminating cargo preference quotas and using some aid to procure food overseas rather than domestically. But moving away from in-kind food aid and allowing more flexibility threatens the revenue of shipping and farming interests. The head of the World Food Program, David Beasley, a nominee of Trump, is, for his part, pushing for continued food aid by linking it directly with violent extremism, saying “we're the first line of offence and defence against extremism and terrorism.” His push has concerned some analysts who worry that characterizing humanitarian aid as part of the security agenda could undermine the impartiality and neutrality of relief efforts. “What gets Republican congressional leaders to perk their ears up? Defence,” said a U.S. aid official. “Once we take this to the place of ‘we need to feed people so they don’t blow us up’ I think we are taking it into a scary place and that’s not where it has to be.” But, the official added, “Beasley has the job because they [the UN] thought he could secure funding. He’s like the UN’s meal ticket.”

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