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Risch, Coons Reintroduce SAFE Act to Prevent Looming Food Crisis

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies, yesterday reintroduced the Securing Allies Food in Emergencies Act (SAFE Act), legislation to respond to the ongoing 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 one of the most pressing threats we face around the globe today. Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine is significantly exacerbating an already dire situation by destabilizing the production and shipment of food for our key partners and allies,” said Risch. “As the United States continues to provide humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine, Congress must also help address food insecurity. The SAFE Act will expedite and expand the reach of international food assistance while also eliminating cargo preferences on food aid, helping us stretch our food aid dollars farther and ultimately saving millions of lives.”

“Climate change, public health threats, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have escalated food security concerns already threatening hundreds of millions of people across the world into a full-blown crisis,” said Coons. “As Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m proud to have helped secure billions for international development agencies like USAID, and I’ll continue to prioritize bipartisan legislation like the SAFE Act to ensure the U.S. is doing its part to address humanitarian crises and food insecurity across the world. I urge Congress to swiftly pass this bill to deploy our tools to effectively address the unprecedented global food crisis and prevent further suffering.”

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.