Search Penny Hill Press

Friday, March 1, 2013

International Food Aid Programs: Background and Issues

Charles E. Hanrahan
Senior Specialist in Agricultural Policy

For almost six decades, the United States has played a leading role in global efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and to enhance world food security through the sale on concessional terms or donation of U.S. agricultural commodities. The objectives for foreign food aid include providing emergency and humanitarian assistance in response to natural or manmade disasters, and promoting agricultural development and food security.

The 2008 farm bill, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246), authorized through FY2012 and amended international food aid programs. These programs are administered either by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) or by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). U.S. international food aid has been distributed mainly through five program authorities: the Food for Peace Act (P.L. 480); Section 416(b) of the Agricultural Act of 1949; the Food for Progress Act of 1985; the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program; and the Local and Regional Procurement Pilot Project, a newly created pilot in the 2008 farm bill which ended in FY2012. In addition, the 2008 farm bill also reauthorized the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT), a reserve of commodities and cash for use in the Food for Peace programs to meet unanticipated food aid needs.

The 112
th Congress extended the 2008 farm bill, including its international food aid provisions and food aid funding levels in effect during FY2012, through September 30, 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff” legislation (P.L. 112-240).

Average annual spending on international food aid programs over the decade FY2002-FY2011 was approximately $2.2 billion, with Food for Peace Title II activities comprising the largest portion of the total budget (about 50%-90% of total annual food aid budgets). In recent years, the volume of Title II emergency food aid has exceeded the amount of non-emergency or development food aid. The 2008 farm bill provides for a “safe box” for funding of nonemergency development assistance projects under Title II, which ranged from $375 million in FY2009 to $450 million in FY2012, though this requirement can be waived by the President if certain criteria are met. The 2008 farm bill also maintained funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program on a discretionary basis, and authorized $60 million for the four-year local and regional procurement pilot project to be implemented in developing countries in order to expedite the provision of food aid to vulnerable populations affected by food crises and disasters. Separately authorized and funded is USAID’s Emergency Food Security Assistance Program, which uses International Disaster Assistance funds to provide cash-based food security assistance (local/regional procurement, cash vouchers, or cash transfers) for emergency relief.

Several food aid issues emerged as the 112
th Congress debated a new farm bill, including ensuring the nutritional quality and safety of food aid provided; assessing the role of monetization (selling food aid commodities in recipient countries to finance development projects); determining the effectiveness and appropriateness of local and regional procurement of food aid; and determining the cost-effectiveness of U.S. cargo preference for delivering U.S. food aid.

Date of Report: January 9, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R41072
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R41072.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.