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Corker, Coons Food for Peace Modernization Act of 2018: What Are They Saying?

Food Aid Reforms That Would ‘Save Money and Lives’ Attract Wide-ranging Support

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today addressed the Chicago Council’s 2018 Global Food Security Symposium, where he highlighted the importance of fixing inefficiencies in U.S. international food aid delivery at a time when so many children are at risk of famine around the world. On March 14, Corker and Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize U.S. global food assistance programs as part of the 2018 farm bill.

“We have a section in the [farm] bill, which hopefully is going to be reauthorized this year, that focuses on feeding people around the world, and we’re thankful that our farmers participate in the program the way that they do,” said Corker at the symposium. “In traveling the world…and seeing the many famines that are taking place…we’ve become even more focused on making sure that the dollars that we have are used in the most effective way possible.”

The Food for Peace Modernization Act of 2018 (FPMA) proposes greater efficiencies in the Food for Peace program so the U.S. can free up as much as $275 million to provide life-saving food to nearly 9 million more people in a shorter time period. U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) also introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The legislation is attracting wide-ranging support from non-governmental organizations, businesses, the farming community, economists, policy exports and others that recognize fixing inefficiencies in food aid will save money and lives with the continued contribution of American farmers. Here is some of what they are saying:

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval: Make modernizing food aid a “priority” in 2018 farm bill: “American farmers have a long, proud history of feeding the world. You can join them in continuing to be leaders in the fight against hunger by encouraging your representatives and senators in Washington to make modernizing the Food for Peace program a priority in this year’s farm bill.” (Bob Corker, Chris Coons and Zippy Duvall, “How U.S. can feed millions more hungry people around the world,” The Tennessean, Feb. 14, 2018)

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Leading Economists: Reforms to make “immediate difference” in response to threat of famine “without tangible cost” to “farmers’ incomes or taxpayers”: “The Food for Peace Modernization Act proposes overdue changes that can make an immediate difference in multiple countries facing the real threat of famine. No wonder, then, that many leaders in Congress, in major farm organizations, and in humanitarian organizations are calling for U.S. international food aid program reforms. By increasing the effectiveness and timeliness of food aid programs, the United States can save more lives, stem forced migration, and generate goodwill around the globe, all without tangible cost to national security, American jobs, farmers’ incomes or taxpayers. The Senate and House agriculture committees, and the administration, would do well to embrace this long-needed bill.” (Vincent H. Smith, Ryan Nabil, Christopher B. Barrett, Stephanie Mercier, and Erin Lentz, “The Food for Peace Modernization Act: Legislation to Make the World a Better Place,” Inside Sources, March 15, 2018)

“Overdue reforms” to “save money and lives”: “As Congress prepares to mark up the next Farm Bill this spring, bipartisan leaders proposed reforms this week that would dramatically increase the proportion of funds spent on life-saving food — as opposed to transport, storage and administration — such as buying food locally or giving recipients biometrically verified vouchers if they live near well-functioning markets…The farm lobby supports such reforms, as do all the major humanitarian relief organizations. Adopting them would save both money and lives.” (Chris Barrett, “Overdue food aid reforms would save money and lives,” Axios, March 16, 2018)

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a nationwide network of 500 businesses and NGOs, cites “smart reform” to “save more lives” while “advancing U.S. interests”: “Thanks to the leadership of Senators Corker and Coons and Reps. Royce and Blumenauer, the Food for Peace Modernization Act is a smart reform that will enable America to save more lives by eliminating inefficiencies and increasing flexibility. With 815 million people who go to bed hungry each night, continuing to transform how USAID, its partners, and American farmers respond with agility, scale, and compassion is of critical importance for advancing U.S. interests in an increasingly turbulent world.” (Liz Schrayer, “USGLC CEO Statement on Important Food for Peace Modernization Act,” USGLC, March 15, 2018)

Reports from groups spanning the political spectrum form consensus on benefits of “more efficient and responsive” food aid programs: “This effort to transform food aid builds on a consensus on both sides of the political aisle that food aid is a smart area for reform. The USGLC’s Report on Reports highlights studies by think tanks from the Heritage Foundation to the Center for American Progress to the American Enterprise Institute— and all agree that modernizing outdated regulations will make America’s food aid programs more efficient and responsive to the needs of desperately hungry people around the world.” (Sung Lee, “Bipartisan Consensus on Food Aid Reform”, USGLC, March 16, 2018)

Center for Global Development (CGD): Farm bill may provide “last, best chance” to make food aid reach “people who need it most”: “This bipartisan group of lawmakers has championed changes to the inefficient policies associated with US global food assistance for years…[W]ith the Farm Bureau on board, this may be the last, best chance for long-time reform champions to ensure US international food aid reaches more of the people who need it most.” (Kimberly Ann Elliott, “Last, Best Chance for Food Aid Reform?,” Center for Global Development, March 15, 2018)

Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): American farmers to remain “backbone” of Food for Peace Program: “Their proposal, which includes several ideas that I have supported over the years, would streamline the Food for Peace process and make the program more flexible. Its backbone would remain: we would continue to ship large amounts of grain and other commodities from America’s farms to needy countries overseas.” (Senator Richard G. Lugar (Ret.), “The Time Really is Now to Modernize U.S. Food Aid Policy,” The Lugar Center, March 15, 2018)

In the News:

Reuters: U.S. lawmakers seek overhaul of overseas food aid rules: “U.S. lawmakers launched their latest effort on Wednesday to ease restrictions on international food assistance programs, which they say would free hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get aid to millions more hungry people around the world…” (Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. lawmakers seek overhaul of overseas food aid rules,” Reuters, March 14, 2018)


POLITICO: Morning Agriculture: “Corker, Coons push for food aid modernization in farm bill: Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced on Wednesday legislation to modernize U.S. global food assistance programs in the 2018 farm bill. Both lawmakers have been long-time advocates of making the Food for Peace program more efficient. It currently spends only 30 percent of its funding on food, and the rest is spent on overhead costs. (Sabrina Rodriguez, “Barrasso rallies ACRE Act support,” POLITICO: Morning Agriculture, March 15, 2018)