My name is Yanique Edouard and my parents immigrated in the 50’s from Haiti. Every year I go back to Haiti to volunteer and it is hard to see the people still suffering from hunger, cholera, and other diseases that impact the island.
One of the things I notice is how US policies have really hurt Haitian farmers. The Food For Peace Program sends cheap food and undermines the agriculture market. In addition, it is a terrible waste to US taxpayers, as only 41% of money for the program is actually spent on food.
Real change in Haiti is not going to happen without better policies that will help the Haitian people. Reforming the Food For Peace Program will be a good step in the right direction as it will empower Haitian farmers and help the economy.
Please help support my effort to hire a lobbyist to pass the Food For Peace Modernization Act so we can have more effective foreign aid, be more effective in our taxpayer dollars, and help people in countries like Haiti live independent, prosperous, and healthy lives.
The United States currently provides around $2 Billion dollars annually in emergency food aid to countries facing dire food shortages through an aid program called Food for Peace. While Food for Peace is essential to fighting global hunger, it has a couple of significant structural problems that cause serious inefficiencies and damage the long-term infrastructure of countries that receive American aid.
First, the Food for Peace program requires that the US source more than 90% of its food aid from producers in the United States. As a result, Food for Peace purchases relatively expensive US food, rather than locally available options, and has to pay a tremendous amount to transport the food from the United States to the impacted areas. Second, the Food for Peace program is also required to ship at least half of its aid on US ships, which on average are about 46% more expensive than if the food aid was shipped on internationally competitive ships. Because of these dual requirements, Food for Peace spends only 40% of its budget on actual food aid and often takes months to deliver much needed aid. In addition, the influx of US sourced food aid at the expense of more local options undermines local agricultural and infrastructure investment that could lead to long-term self-sufficiency, creating dependency on US aid. The Food for Peace Modernization Act is a proposed solution to fix the inefficiencies in the United States’ food aid procedures. The bill proposes abolishing the requirements that food aid is sourced from the United States and shipped on American ships.
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Experts estimate the bill could save up to $350 million a year, 20% of Food for Peace’s annual budget, and help reach an additional 9 million people in need a year. The bill is also estimated to reduce the delivery time of much-needed food aid by up to 14 weeks. Finally, the Food for Peace Reform Act would stimulate local economies and the development of long-term agricultural infrastructure by directing the aid money to local businesses rather than concentrating it in the hands of the United States’ big agricultural conglomerates.
The United States Agency for International Development has an obligation to provide efficient and effective food aid to those who are most in need of it around the world. Moreover, the aid provided should foster long-term sustainable economies rather than allowing United States agricultural companies to profit off the graft of these inefficient regulations. The outlined policy changes would help a long list of countries including Syria, Malawi, and Haiti, all of which are major recipients of US food aid.
The Food for Peace Reform Act has been introduced several times but has never made it out of committee because it is vehemently opposed by Big Agriculture. Meanwhile, President Trump has indicated he could support similar changes but with an accompanying $1 Billion decrease in total US food aid. The people need a voice in Washington to fight Big Agriculture and advocate for efficient food aid policies to best help people in need around the world avoid starvation. Moreover, the people need an experienced lobbyist to shepherd the Food for Peace Reform Act through the legislative process without letting the bill’s lofty goals be co-opted by those who are seeking to reduce American aid altogether. A lobbyist would bring continued effort and attention to this important piece of legislation, protect the appropriations that already exist for the Food for Peace program, and provide expertise to legislators who are worried about being attacked by the agricultural lobby.
The Food for Peace Reform Act is urgent. Every year people are starving because of the inefficiencies of the Food for Peace program. Moreover, every year we don’t take action, local economies continue to be undermined and become more reliant on US aid. The people need a voice to let Washington know we do not want to turn inwards, but want to help foster a world in which people are assisted in times of need and supported in their desire to become self-sufficient after an unexpected disaster.
Voices of America: