Food Aid Reform: What Happens to America's Farmers?

The strongest opposition to Food Aid Reform, a system which currently buys and ships U.S.-grown grain to countries in need, seems to becoming from our own farmers. Yet even many farmers recognize the need for more flexibility in U.S. food aid policies, as outlined in by Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union. Fifty years ago, our food aid policies made sense given our surplus of grain. As Johnson points out though, “Our food system has changed drastically in the past 50 years; naturally, our system of international aid must evolve as well.” He also recognizes that, “At a time of such urgent human need and budget constraint, reforms that enable us to reach more hungry people while saving taxpayer dollars, and continue to engage the talent and generosity of American agriculture, are the right choice.” In mid January both the House and Senate passed the Omnibus Spending Bill for fiscal year 2014, which included $35 million that increases U.S. flexibility to buy grain locally from the regions receiving aid. This is a small step in the right direction; let’s keep pushing for more, and bigger, reforms along with the National Farmers Union. about the National Farmers Union.