NAWG and 15 other agricultural organizations voiced support this week for including more than half a billion dollars in emergency food aid spending in a supplemental bill being processed by Congress.
In a letter sent Friday to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the groups outlined the need for an appropriation of $580 million for P.L. 480 Title II. This request represents a dramatic increase over the Obama Administration’s request of $150 million, but is needed as hunger around the world persists following a global recession and ongoing conflict and natural disasters.
About $1.5 billion – including $1.4 billion from Title II and $100 million from the International Disaster Assistance Account – is currently available for emergency food assistance, but that figure is expected to prove insufficient to meet the need around the world or the level of commitment typically provided by the U.S.
Based on the World Food Program’s (WFP’s) assessment of global emergency food aid requirements, at least $5.2 billion is needed this year to cover the cost of commodities and related transportation, storage, handling, distribution, administration and monitoring. The U.S. typically provides at least 40 percent of global emergency food assistance, meaning $2.08 billion for 2010.
“Without additional funding, the World Food Program (WFP) and other humanitarian organizations will be forced to reduce lifesaving assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations who have been devastated by humanitarian emergencies,” the groups told appropriators. They also stressed the importance of continuing WFP programs in areas like Afghanistan where the U.S. continues to combat the roots of terrorism.
The Administration has requested $150 million in the supplemental to address needs in Haiti, but WFP operations are also under threat in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kenya, Chad, Ethiopia and others.
In 2008, Title II emergency food aid programs distributed nearly 2 million metric tons of U.S. commodities.
The grower-governed U.S. wheat industry is a strong and consistent supporter of food aid programs. For more information about the industry’s food aid principles and priorities, and to read the full letter sent this week, please visit www.wheatworld.org/foodaid.