NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and other representatives of commodities frequently given as food aid wrote the Foreign Agricultural Service this week to comment on areas of concern regarding implementation of a local and regional purchase (LRP) pilot program.
The comments, sent Tuesday, were provided in response to a request in a September Federal Register notice outlining extensive interim guidelines for the pilot program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
The groups said, in part:
“Our organizations strongly support the current highly successful U.S. produced in-kind commodity food aid donation programs. U.S. food aid programs are essential for the survival of countless people around the world…Because so many people around the world rely heavily on U.S. food aid assistance, the LRP study must carefully weigh how LRP will affect our ability to deliver nutritious, safe, reliable and recognized food assistance to those in need. These issues are all vitally important to the reputation of the U.S. food aid system and should be thoroughly considered when implementing this pilot study.”
The comments elaborated on issues of nutrition, safety, availability, reliability and recognition that the groups believe should be taken into consideration as FAS moves forward with LRP guidelines and the program.
The groups asserted that the U.S. government and the providers of food aid must ensure that local markets are not distorted and nutrition and safety aren’t compromised in an effort to reduce costs. The groups also expressed concern about the U.S. reputation for providing food aid, which has been developed over many years and could be quickly tarnished if lower-quality food is seen as coming from the U.S.
The full comments are available online at www.wheatworld.org/trade.