Food Aid Reform Bill Authorizes Emergency Food Security Program for First Time
WASHINGTON – Following passage of the Global Food Security Act in the House of Representatives yesterday, U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighted further progress in their bipartisan effort to ensure U.S. food assistance is being used as effectively as possible. The Global Food Security Act, which passed the Senate in April, contains a first-time authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP). USAID has relied increasingly upon EFSP to avoid constraints that would prevent delivery of emergency food aid through the Food for Peace program.
“The House joined the Senate in making important progress toward eliminating inefficiencies in food aid, feeding millions more hungry people, more quickly, for the same cost,” said Senator Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Flexibility in emergency food aid is critical for ensuring we are able to respond in emergency situations like Syria, where U.S. commodities simply cannot reach. The Emergency Food Security Program is also the model for overall food aid reform, moving the United States toward a system that guarantees U.S. farmers’ involvement in the program while allowing for greater flexibility to reach people in need without wasting millions in unnecessary overhead. I am hopeful that with this bill now going to the president’s desk, we will continue building momentum behind that effort.”
“House passage of the Global Food Security Act moves this bill to the President’s desk for signature. I want to thank Senators Casey, Isakson, Cardin, and Corker for their work in putting the Obama Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative into law,” said Senator Coons. “This bill also sends an important signal about the need to increase flexibility in how we deliver food aid, and I look forward to seeing the President sign this bill into law without delay. The passage of this act into law will ensure that the United States remains a leader in improving food security and promoting long-term nutrition for communities in developing countries.”
In 2015, nearly half of the $2.1 billion in annual U.S. food aid came from the EFSP. Other non-emergency food assistance is encumbered by various restrictions, including U.S. commodity and cargo preferences, that make emergency food aid too slow, too expensive, or locally inappropriate. The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015, coauthored by Corker and Coons, would eliminate these restraints to free up as much as $440 million annually and allow the U.S. to reach an estimated eight to twelve million more people with food in a shorter time period.