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The Royce-Engel amendment to reform US food aid failed 203-220 in the House this week, as did the farm bill to which it was attached. The food aid amendment would have relaxed requirements that the United States buy American commodities and ship them on US ships. It's painful to see a smart foreign aid reform that would save lives and taxpayer money suffer a narrow defeat.
Could a more proactive strategy from the Obama administration, who proposed food aid reform in the FY2014 budget, have made the difference? Maybe. But the shred of good news here is that the first real vote on foreign aid in ages was closer than expected (it got more votes than the entire farm bill!) and had almost identical levels of support from Democrats (98) and Republicans (105) (more from Oxfam’s Gawain Kripke here). Here's hoping some of that bipartisan appetite for aid reform can help resolve the $10 billion difference in FY2014 foreign aid spending bills between the House ($34 billion) and Senate ($44.1 billion).
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.
As donors gather next week in Rome to pledge funds to the International Fund for Agriculture Development , they may be wondering where the United States is. Given the generally high marks this independent fund earns for development effectiveness, the uncertainty around a US pledge is troubling. In this “America First” moment, it’s worth asking when it comes to IFAD, what’s in it for the United States and what will be lost if the United States drops out?
Members of the World Trade Organization will be meeting next week in Buenos Aires to discuss the future of agricultural and other trade policies that could have important implications for food security and jobs in developing countries (eventually). And members of the US House and Senate agricultural committees will be meeting through next year to craft a new five-year farm bill that will help shape global markets and determine how much and how quickly US food aid can be delivered to people in desperate need around the world.