Friday, May 2, 2008

Food: The Bush Legacy

If President Bush is remembered for doing something well as president, it should be his policy towards the developing world. His administration has massively increased aid for HIV/AIDS victims, has expanded free trade with poor countries, and has shown an unprecedented degree of respect for LDC's.

The latest policy battle on this front is the administration's effort to relax USAID's food-purchasing rules. Norman Borlaug and Andrew Natsios outline the sensibility of this move in Opinion Journal.
Purchasing food locally simplifies the process, cuts down the time delay in delivery, reduces the logistical risks, and saves transport costs... Direct food purchases in local countries could also help improve their agriculture...

In Ethiopia in 2003, for example, widespread drought occurred in the low-lying areas of the country and the very dry northern highlands. Some 12 million to 15 million people were at risk of hunger and starvation. But in the central and southern highlands of Ethiopia, farmers were producing a bumper crop of corn and other cereals. Yet with no market for the locally produced grains, prices collapsed.
Meanwhile, American farmers are seeing high prices for their products - they don't need ((yet) another) handout from Uncle Sam.

Write your Congressman!
Congress should amend the Farm Bill to allow up to 25% of the appropriation for USAID's food-aid program to be used to purchase food locally, when the program's administrator deems it appropriate to do so. A great many people's lives depend on this reform.
This is one thing we - regular American citizens - can do in response to the global food crisis.

1 comment:

Chops said...

I sent the following to my congressman:

Dear Representative Slaughter,

During the current global food crisis, America should fulfill her potential in helping the world's poorest. Among the effective ways to do this is relaxing the restrictions on USAID's food-aid purchases.

Please use the voice of the 28th District to advocate amending the US Farm Bill to allow USAID to purchase foodstuff wherever it can most efficiently do so.

In an era of rising food prices, American farm produce is needed here at home - and USAID can serve a valuable function of bringing excess food supplies throughout the world to the places where they are most needed.

Respectfully yours,

- [Chops]
Dept. of Economics
University of Rochester