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President Bush Can and Should Do More to Address the Food Crisis: Let Japan Sell Its Rice Reserves

This posting is joint with Vijaya Ramachandran

Today, President Bush called on Congress to provide another $770 million in food aid, in addition to the $200 million already allocated through the Department of Agriculture,in order "to keep our existing food aid programs robust."

There is no doubt that these additional funds are much needed to purchase and distribute food to those who are suffering greatly from the current spike in food prices. But the U.S. can and should do more. Specifically, the U.S. must allow Japan to sell, at full cost on Japanese books, the 1.5
million metric tons of rice that it has in storage. About 600,000 tons is
Thai and Vietnamese long-grain rice (high quality) and the rest is US medium
grain (good rice). All of the rice is in Japanese warehouses because of an
agreement with the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. as "cognizant
observer" of the rice agreement, would need to approve the sale of both
the
US and the Thai/Vietnamese rice. Japan currently cannot release this rice
to the World Food Program (or to the world market) without permission from
the U.S., and the Bush administration is yet to move on this.

How NOT to Fix the Global Food Crisis -- France Says Poor Countries Should Provide EU-Style Farm Subsidies, while U.S. Farm Bill Puts Vested Interests First

And now for a really bad idea: according to the Financial Times Michel Barnier, France's farm minister, told a food crisis summit in Berne that Africa and Latin America should adopt their own versions of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy -- massive trade-distorting subsidies -- as a response to rising demand for food.

Trade Policy for a New Deal on Hunger

This is a joint post with Arvind Subramanian

In a Q&A published today, CGD non-resident fellow Peter Timmer estimates that soaring global food prices and panicky starve-thy-neighbor rice export restrictions in Asia could lead to 10 million or more premature deaths in the region if the current high prices are passed along to poor rice consumers.

The Global Food Crisis: Time for Action, Not Panic

The New York Times yesterday (and Paul Krugman earlier in the week) called on rich countries to "step up to the plate" in confronting the food crisis in developing countries -- in the short run by increasing their donations of food aid. and in the medium run by getting rid of economically inefficient, inequitable, and environmentally unsound subsidies for biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol.

More Reasons That Congress Should Reform US Food Aid

This year's decline in food aid [due to high food prices] follows a period when the sharply escalating costs of shipping American-grown food aid to Africa and Asia already reduced the tonnage supplied. The United States Government Accountability Office reported this year that the number of people being fed by American food aid had declined to 70 million in 2006 from 105 million in 2002, mainly because of rising transportation and logistical costs.


The Economics and Politics of CARE's Decision to Pass Up Millions in U.S. Food Aid

I join my colleague Rachel Nugent in offering Three Cheers for CARE Decision to Forego U.S. Food Aid!
U.S. food aid has a long and complicated history. Most people think of food aid as "doing good"—feeding the starving—and it is often used for this purpose. However, large amounts of food aid are sold to finance development projects, often administered by the U.S. or by NGOs. And, in the process, food aid can actually do harm.

Three Cheers for CARE Decision to Forego U.S. Food Aid

Huge kudos to CARE for taking a bold and reasoned stand on how best to deliver food aid to developing countries. Kudos as well to the New York Times for yesterday's front page coverage of the CARE decision—how remarkable to see food aid so prominently featured in the NYT!—and its other recent coverage (subscription required) of how U.S. policy affects poor African farmers. As the NYT reported:

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