Today there are about 800 million malnourished and hungry people in the world. In order to meet the goal of halving world hunger by 2015, a goal agreed to by countries involved in the 1996 World Food Summit, the U.S. needs to increase its leadership and its commitment to humanitarian food donations.
The Board of Directors of U.S. Wheat Associates, representing wheat growers in 19 states, unanimously opposes administration budget proposals that would cut food aid and eliminate programs. The board instead urges the administration to increase food donations, maintain U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, fulfill prior commitments, and listen to humanitarian groups and commodity experts.
The U.S. needs to provide a steady level of food aid, every year, on which the international humanitarian community can rely. At a minimum, food donations should total at least 6 million metric tons annually. Further, the U.S. needs to provide a minimum of 3 MMT of wheat donations to countries that rely on bread and other wheat foods for daily sustenance.
USW also calls for the development of a formal advisory group, to advise U.S. agencies on the appropriate specifications in food aid donations. The wheat industry and representatives from other commodities should be formally and actively involved as agencies put donations in place, to ensure that the donations are culturally sensitive and that purchases are correctly specified. The programs could also be improved if government agencies sought commercial advice on which -- if any -- food aid programs are appropriate in each country so as not to interfere with U.S. commercial activities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture should retain their jurisdiction over food aid donations. USDA has a wealth of talent, knowledge, administrative know-how and dedication in the Farm Services Agency and the Foreign Agricultural Service, both in the U.S. offices and in embassies overseas. Food aid programs need continuity and creativity in order to maximize effectiveness, and FAS can provide that.
U.S. Wheat Associates opposes the elimination of Section 416(b) and Food for Progress programs, and recommends that USDA be tasked with the continued administration of those or similar programs.
USW is also concerned that the original resources allocated to the pilot Global Feeding Program have evidently not yet been distributed. As of last month, even while some in the government were handing down negative judgements about the school lunch program, private groups were still waiting for the full appropriations authorized for the pilot activity. USDA needs to carry out the program’s original intentions, and then formally involve the private humanitarian agencies in the evaluation of the pilot program.
Noting that India and China are both large wheat producing nations which have the first and second largest populations of undernourished people, U.S. Wheat Associates will also be considering initiatives that would help facilitate the use of domestically produced wheat for humanitarian feeding programs in those countries.
U.S. Wheat Associates is the industry’s market development organization, working in over 100 countries on behalf of wheat producers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.