January 16, 2014, Washington, DC — The Alliance for Global Food Security praised the Fiscal Year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Bill for providing realistic budgets for international food aid programs, incorporating common-sense policies that ensure greater program effectiveness, and helping 55 million people who suffer from hunger. Congress is expected to pass the Bill as an amendment to H.R. 3547, and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature by January 18, 2014.
Crispian Kirk, Chair of the Alliance and President & CEO of Opportunities Industrialization Centers International, said, “We thank Congress for funding food aid programs at a level that will allow the United States to meet emergency needs and to support forward-thinking programs that reduce child malnutrition and build the capacity of poor households to meet their own needs. We urge the Obama Administration and Congress to continue the bill’s practical approach of keeping the time-tested Food for Peace Act (PL 480) as the core food aid program, giving greater support to development-focused food aid within that account, and providing flexibility to buy foods locally or regionally for emergencies under the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account.”
In the agriculture division of the Bill, $1.47 billion is appropriated for PL 480 Title II, which donates U.S. agricultural commodities and fortified foods to alleviate hunger during emergencies and to improve nutrition and food security of poor, malnourished populations. In the foreign operations division of the bill, and $1.8 billion is appropriated for the IDA Account, part of which is used for local or regional procurement of food products and cash distribution during emergencies.
Ellen Levinson, Executive Director of the Alliance, observed, “The PL 480 and IDA funds combined are $1.2 billion more than the Obama Administration’s 2014 budget request, which had no funds for PL 480 and $2.05 billion for International Disaster Assistance. Considering the many millions of people suffering from deep-rooted hunger in areas that are easily destabilized and who urgently need assistance because of wars and natural disasters, sufficient funding for both PL 480 and IDA is required.”
Mr. Kirk pointed out that of the PL 480 Title II funds, the Bill assures a minimum of $375 million will be used for development programs that provide food aid and also improve nutrition, agriculture, resilience and incomes in areas where hunger and child malnutrition are prevalent. He said, “Increasing the use of food aid in programs that also help people become self-reliant is the smart way of improving effectiveness, particularly in poor communities and crisis-prone areas.”
The Alliance also praised the innovative approach of providing flexibility to use $35 million of Title II funds for the types of development activities that can be conducted with monetized proceeds. In cases where monetization would not be beneficial to a recipient country, flexibility for direct cash support for development activities that improve program impact makes sense.
The Alliance commended continued funding of McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition programs at a level similar to 2013, $185 million. By providing school meals and improving the educational environment and community participation, these programs increase school enrollment and attendance.
In addition, Alliance members praised the allocation of $1.1 billion of bilateral economic assistance funds for improving agricultural and food systems as part of the Obama Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative called “Feed the Future.” These funds assist developing countries that have well-designed agriculture and food security action plans and are committing resources to improve their agricultural economies and the incomes and productivity of rural populations and small farmers. Under the Global Health account, $115 million is allocated for nutrition programs, an important component of both global health and food security strategies.
Alliance members are private voluntary organizations that are committed to addressing hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. They operate in over 100 developing countries, implementing emergency and development programs that build the capacity of local communities, enterprises and institutions.