Food Aid Reform Promises to Feed Millions More


With the onslaught of manmade and natural disasters, food shortage and famine are more a concern now than ever before. In Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria alone, nearly 20 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition. A bipartisan group has formed to reevaluate the use of U.S. foreign aid funds to meet the growing needs of displaced populations. Economic experts with public policy think tank, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), share the three food aid reforms that are free to taxpayers and would feed an additional 10 million people.

Today, food aid spending is heavily restricted. The first reform is to dissolve the mandate requiring all food come from inside the U.S., rather than the cheapest source. Second is putting an end to "cargo preferences," which says at least half of all food aid must be shipped on American vessels. Claiming to serve military purposes and therefore essential to national security, American shipping companies can charge up to a 40 percent premium to transport food aid to refugees. These two measures would save $300 million a year. The final solution is to revoke the monetization policy, which currently wastes 30 to 50 cents on every dollar from the food that is shipped to low-income countries to be resold.

Standing in the way of these reforms are the groups that benefit from the current policy: American farmers and shipping companies. Yet, food aid represents less than 0.1 percent of U.S. food production and these vessels have not been used for military purposes within the last forty years. It seems then that there is less to lose and more to gain, as these reforms would save countless lives and improve stability in these deeply conflicted areas. LEARN MORE