Archive for November, 2013
“Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to the poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era. It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked.” –Bill ClintonHaiti is now struggling under immense financial pressures that are driving farmers to focus their energy on export crops. Thus, Haiti is in a situation where its farmers produce mangoes and purchase US-grown rice with their earnings. Hardly a sensible system for a country capable of producing its own food and avoiding the layers of middlemen and transaction costs associated with export agriculture. Time for Reform Right now, the Quixote Center is part of a coalition of NGOs and grassroots networks advocating for food aid reform. We are calling for increased flexibility in the system that will allow for more local purchases of food aid when possible. What we hope for is a system that allows rapid and efficient response to all types of food emergencies. In cases where local production is disrupted, sending food to people in need makes sense. However, this public aid should not be used as a tool to prop up United States farmers to the detriment of farmers in recipient countries. Our coalition advocates for changes such that, when possible, food aid comes by making local purchases for people in need. These purchases are more efficient in that the food does not have to travel from Arkansas, and it is more productive in the long term because it increases the viability of local markets and maintains existing levels of food sovereignty. The United States can do better, but whether or not we improve is dependent on Members of Congress now considering Food Aid Reform as part of the Farm Bill. We have set up a system through which you can contact your Member of Congress and express your support for key issues like food reform, aid accountability, and the ongoing displaced persons crisis in Port-au-Prince. If you would like to get more directly involved in the effort to reform our system of food aid, please contact Andrew Hochhalter for more information.
- Buying food from farmers in-country promotes their own local economies and is a step towards self-sufficient markets. In essence, we will enable them to feed themselves, and they won’t need our food aid in the future.
- Our current process of shipping U.S. food abroad is inefficient. It takes 130 days longer to reach the hungry, and has lost $219 million of our taxpayer money over three years. With the Food Aid Reform, our aid will be both more efficient and reach up to 4 million more people.
Less than one-seventh of the US$5 billion needed to fund the Least Developed Countries’ (LDCs’) most urgent climate change adaptation projects has been delivered by wealthy countries — a sliver of their annual spending on their own disasters and globally on fossil fuel subsidies. LDCs played almost no role in causing climate change, yet from 2010 to July 2013, their deaths from climate-related disasters were more than five times the global average. International pledges of climate finance to address this inequality are overall both inadequate and unmet. The burden of responding to climate change should fall on those most responsible for causing the problem, and most capable of addressing it.Expectations are typically low for these negotiating rounds, and COP-19 is no different. But we can still raise our voice. 350.org is circulating a petition calling for negotiators to make serious commitments on emission standards and other reform now. If you would like to add your voice you can sign here. The petition will be delivered to negotiators during the conference, which is scheduled to go for two weeks.