The case for 'common sense' reforms in US food aid

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) during the USAID FY2012 budget hearing in 2011. Royce calls for “common sense” reforms to Food for Peace. House Committee on Foreign Affairs / CC BY-NC

The Farm Bill Conference meeting kicked off Wednesday with a strong statement from Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calling for “common sense” reforms to the U.S. international food aid program Food for Peace.

The question remains — will his plea fall on a congressional conference committee that is too wrapped up with domestic spending disagreements to worry about reforming international programs this year?

Still, Royce’s opening statement should encourage reform advocates who have been lobbying to end the practice of food aid monetization and to build in more flexibility for how food aid money gets spent. He called on Congress to require that development groups recover 70 percent of the shipping and procurement costs associated monetization (donating U.S.-produced food commodities to NGOs who then sell them abroad to fund programs) and allow for flexible spending on 20 percent of food aid funding instead of limiting that money to the procurement of in-kind U.S. food commodities.

Finally, the congressman advocated for the re-authorization and expansion of the Local and Regional Procurement program established under the 2008 Farm Bill, which would allow for more local food sourcing rather than buying American produce and shipping it overseas.

“In the broader bill, there are areas where the House and Senate are far apart. But there are other areas where compromise can and should be easy … I expect we will deliver,” Royce said in his statement.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.