The development of the Food for Peace program was the US’s first program for fighting international hunger. This program focuses heavily on donating commodities to vulnerable populations abroad. Most donated goods are grown domestically and shipped to developing countries where over three billion people have received assistance since its inception. It is estimated that another eight to twelve million people could receive help by reforming US food aid policies. A major barrier to expanding reach is the shipment of US agricultural goods abroad. This is a practice that should be eliminated because it is harmful in the following ways:
1. It is time-consuming.
Shipping US grown goods abroad takes on average 126 days. In emergency situations, people are only able to survive for 12 days without foods. In many instances, waiting for US commodities to ship is deadly.
2. It wastes money on transportation fees.
Between 2003 and 2012, the US spent close to $18 billion on food aid. Over half of this money was used on international transportation fees. Money that could be used to feed millions was used to support US-based shipping companies and the transport of good.
3. It cripples international agricultural sectors.
US grown food is sold at a much lower cost than food sold by local farmers. This can put local farmers out of business if they are unable to compete with the sale of US products. Resultantly, communities become completely dependent on aid.
We should discontinue the practice of shipping US commodities abroad and instead support international agricultural ventures. Learn more about FY 2016 reform proposals here.