Farm groups to Trump: re-emphasize U.S.-grown food aid
February 2, 2017
Farm groups to Trump: re-emphasize food aid; cargo preference reg withdrawn
Ten farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent President Donald Trump a letter last week urging him to prioritize American-grown, in-kind food aid.
The groups noted that the U.S. food aid programs administered by the Agriculture Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have a long, proud history serving three billion people in more than 150 countries.
But they added, "Despite this impressive, proven record, the statute requiring a portion of aid be provided via in-kind donations has been relentlessly attacked by previous administrations and a small faction within Congress who would prefer to shift contributions from in-kind, American-grown food to cash and vouchers. While we understand that cash and vouchers may serve a limited role in certain emergency situations, American-grown commodities should remain the backbone of the USDA and USAID food assistance programs."
“As a strong supporter of rural America and leader that touts the importance and patriotism of quality, American products, we ask you to prioritize the use of American-grown in-kind commodity contributions through U.S. international food assistance programs.” Farm groups’ letter to President Trump
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"As a strong supporter of rural America and leader that touts the importance and patriotism of quality, American products, we ask you to prioritize the use of American-grown in-kind commodity contributions through U.S. international food assistance programs," the letter asked.
The letter was posted on the USA Rice website.
Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget has withdrawn a regulation to revise the 1954 U.S. cargo preference law that requires that at least 50 percent of the gross tonnage of all government-generated cargo, including agricultural commodities, be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flag commercial vessels to the extent that such vessels are available at fair and reasonable rates. A short description of the rule said that the cargo preference regulations had not been revised substantially since 1971 and that the rule would implement statutory changes. OMB received the rule on March 11, 2015, and completed its review on Jan. 10, 2017.
The full content of the rule was not released, but some advocates for making changes to U.S. food aid programs have said that cargo preference results in unnecessarily high shipping costs and have long favored reducing or eliminating cargo preference for food aid shipments. Shipping companies and labor unions that have been part of the constituency urging Congress to maintain food aid programs have defended the cargo preference requirement.
–The Hagstrom Report