VEGA Joins NGO Community in Supporting International Food Assistance Programs in 2018 Farm Bill

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As U.S.-based charities and faith-based organizations working to end hunger, poverty, and malnutrition around the world, we express our deep gratitude to the House Agriculture Committee for their continued support of U.S. international food assistance programs authorized in the Farm Bill, and we applaud them for strengthening these programs in Title III of the recently introduced Chairman’s mark on the Farm Bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, H.R. 2.

The House Farm Bill advances key reforms that our community supports, such as removing the requirement to monetize commodities in Title II of the Food for Peace Program and recognizing the role of the Community Development Fund in Title II Development Food Security Activities. These are important changes that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Food for Peace Program.

As we have learned over decades of experience, the conditions and contexts of food insecurity differ widely across the world. For this reason, U.S.-funded international emergency and long-term development food and assistance programs must respond with a range of tools, modalities, and interventions, including food vouchers, cash transfers, local and regional procurement, and U.S. commodities. We are grateful that the House Agriculture Committee chose to not only maintain the progress and flexibility achieved in the 2014 Farm Bill but also build upon that progress by including the above-mentioned changes that will increase program efficiency.

We also urge Congress to enact legislation to reduce the impact of cargo preference on international food aid programs. Current requirements significantly inhibit beneficiary reach by directing more food aid dollars towards ocean freight and fewer to the purchase of food for people in need.

Ending hunger and malnutrition in our lifetime is possible, but many challenges to this goal remain. These programs serve a vital purpose, especially in a year when 76 million people across 45 countries require emergency food assistance. Chronic hunger has increased, with nearly 815 million people struggling with food insecurity every day.

We thank Congressional champions for their support of programs that fight global hunger and look forward to continuing to work with them to find ways to improve international food assistance programs. We recognize these programs are just a piece of a broader legislative package, and we hope the Chairman, Ranking Member, and all of Congress work together on a final Farm Bill that will garner wide congressional support.

 

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