WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bob Goodlatte today spoke out against the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) budget proposal that would transfer $300 million of the agency’s $1.2 billion food aid funding for 2006. The transferred funds would be used to purchase foreign food in areas experiencing emergency food situations. Andrew Natsios, administration for USAID, indicated that the new proposal has encountered resistance from domestic constituencies.
“P.L. 480 Title II food aid serves two purposes: one—it provides emergency and non-emergency (development) food aid to food-insecure countries and two—the program helps American farmers since the money is used to purchase American agricultural products and thereby stimulate the U.S. economy. This proposal would pull $300 million out of taxpayers’ pockets and drop it into foreign markets. I strongly oppose this proposal,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
The purchases from U.S. farms benefits our economy as the expenditures circulates through the U.S. economy rather than the European economy or that of other major food exporting nations. The effect of transferring these purchases elsewhere is amplified by the fact that purchases by farmers from other sectors of our economy for equipment, supplies, and family expenses, as well as payments on bank loans and federal, state and local taxes, are all lost when this cash flows to other countries rather than our own.
In prior years, USAID food aid funding has been used in foreign markets under special circumstances such as in Afghanistan in 2002. Transportation roadblocks and other difficulties presented a unique situation in which funds were used to purchase wheat and other products from countries neighboring Afghanistan instead of using American wheat. Special circumstances warranted the shift in funding.
“I support this food aid program because it provides food to those who need it most and helps American farmers. In the rare case that American products cannot reach the hands of the recipients quickly and efficiently, I think it is acceptable, after consultation with the Agriculture Committee, to use the money in local markets to ensure the aid is delivered swiftly. It is absolutely foolish to set aside a large portion of the budget for such limited occurrences,” the Chairman said.