Saturday, 1 December 2012

US Farm Bill and the Future of Food Aid

This piece from Ed Carr's Open The Echo Chamber blog sounds the alarm about the delay in sorting out the US farm bill. A delay that could have serious food aid consequences. I'm not a huge fan of food aid but the aid system is heavily reliant on donated food, particularly from the US. The system, this large, cumbersome, bureaucratic, lumbering beast. However much we may argue that the reliance on food aid should change, the fact is that, so far, it hasn't. Token gestures towards cash transfers and locally procured stock do not negate the continued reality that an awfully large portion of the value of aid given to deal with hunger is still given in the form of donated, most US food.

This means that a sudden, unexpected drop in the amount of donated food aid that exists in the system is going to cause huge problems. None of this should come as a sudden shock. Apart from anything else, the US drought should already have had food security aid agencies thinking about alternatives. The farm bill debacle is just going to make the problem bigger. Here's hoping, with as much optimism as I can muster, that aid agencies working in food security and hunger have prepared a whole spread of alternative options or a whole lot of people, a whole lot of them in Africa, are going to be facing serious, unalleviated hunger this year.

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