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Risch, Coons Introduce SAFE Act to Improve, Expand Reach of Food Assistance

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies, today introduced the Securing Allies Food in Emergencies Act (SAFE Act), legislation to respond to the looming global food crisis precipitated by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 by improving the timeliness and expanding the reach of U.S. international food assistance.

“Food security is national security. Russia’s illegal invasion and war in Ukraine threatens to destabilize key partners and allies and push millions of people into hunger and poverty around the world,” said Risch. “The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in assistance to stop the war and address its global humanitarian impact, but we can do more. The SAFE Act allows the United States to better respond to the looming global food crisis by improving the timeliness and expanding the reach of international food assistance. Removing cargo preference requirements on food aid is a critical first step to achieving these ends.”

“The combination of the climate crisis, COVID-19, and Russia’s immoral invasion of Ukraine have dangerously destabilized global food markets,” said Coons. “Passing the SAFE Act will help the United States respond more effectively to the global food crisis, averting the threat of famine and reducing the risk of food riots and instability around the globe. Congress can and should take these urgent steps to expedite and expand our international food assistance program.” 

The SAFE Act:

  • Requires the USAID administrator to develop a comprehensive strategy to avert a catastrophic global food security crisis;
  • Provides the USAID administrator with enhanced authority to procure emergency food assistance in the United States, locally, or regionally, so it can reach people experiencing acute food insecurity when and where they need it most;
  • Prioritizes procurements of U.S. agricultural commodities for areas where food is unavailable locally or regionally;
  • For areas where the use of U.S. agricultural commodities would not be timely or appropriate, prioritizes local and regional procurements from areas supported by U.S. agricultural development programs, including Ukraine;
  • Waives outdated U.S. shipping requirements for emergency food aid, which cost the American taxpayer an additional $80 million last year alone, thereby enabling USAID to stretch our food aid dollars farther; and
  • Bars procurements of food aid from Russia, China, and countries on the Department of State’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Full text of the SAFE Act can be found here.