Food Aid Reform
InterAction is working with its members to reform a key U.S. international food aid program known as Food for Peace Title II. Reforms to the program – one that is critical in the global fight against hunger – are aimed at improving and extending its reach so that more people receive life-saving food assistance.
Convening the NGO Community
InterAction helped its NGO members agree on a set of principles to guide food aid reform efforts. These principles include making sure any reforms protect the core focus and effective elements of existing food assistance programs, increase the number of people helped, improve the flexibility of programs, and are made in an open, transparent, and inclusive process.
Working with the Administration
In its fiscal year 2014 budget request, the Obama administration outlined a food aid reform proposal that would allow life-saving assistance to reach an additional four million people while making it more flexible and efficient. While Congress largely rejected the proposal, InterAction has worked closely with the administration to coordinate strategy on advancing responsible food aid reform through both the appropriations process and farm bill.
InterAction supports the provisions of the president’s fiscal year 2015 food aid reform proposal that build on previous reform efforts, including requesting new authority to use up to 25 percent of the total Food for Peace Title II appropriation in emergencies for interventions such as local or regional procurement of food, food vouchers, or cash transfers. As the President’s budget request states, this flexibility ensures that emergency food assistance would be timelier and more cost-effective, thereby improving program efficiencies and performance, and would allow USAID to reach more than 2 million additional beneficiaries each year with the same level of resources. InterAction will continue to engage the administration to ensure that U.S. NGO priorities are included in any future food aid reform proposals.
Working with Congress
InterAction has led congressional advocacy on food aid reform and has been a key resource in educating Congress on food aid reform. As a result of key reforms made in the farm bill and the fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending bill, USAID estimates that an additional 800,000 people will be reached annually with the same level of resources.
Another avenue for food aid reform is through the appropriations process. InterAction and its members urged Congress to support strong funding for the Food for Peace Title II program in fiscal year 2014, as well as key reform measures that will ensure more people are reached with food assistance. In letters sent to key members of Congress, InterAction and 26 other U.S. NGOs urged support for food security accounts and two food aid reform provisions.
In the fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending bill, Congress provided strong funding levels for international food assistance, including $1.466 billion for Food for Peace Title II and $1.8 billion for International Disaster Assistance. Congress also adopted one of the reform provisions for which InterAction had advocated, providing $35 million in cash to reduce the need to monetize food aid, or sell U.S. food commodities overseas to pay for life-saving food and nutrition security programs. This simple change will improve the efficiency of the Food for Peace Title II program and help expand its reach to approximately 200,000 thousand more people - allowing them to better feed themselves, lift their communities out of poverty, and reduce the need for future emergency assistance.
InterAction has continued to advocate for Congress to provide robust funding for international food assistance and to adopt additional responsible food aid reform in the FY2015 appropriations process. Both of the draft FY2015 agriculture appropriations bills in the House and Senate keep funding strong for the Food for Peace Title II program at $1.466 billion. InterAction worked with key offices in the House and Senate to amend the bills to ensure that the program continues to reach as many hungry people as possible. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment offered by Senators Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to maintain the provision of $35 million in cash to reduce the need to monetize and allow for more flexible programming options; the House of Representatives passed an amendment offered by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would provide $10 million in funding for the newly authorized USDA Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) Program. InterAction was proud to support both of these successful amendments and has continued to advocate for these provisions and strong funding levels overall to be included in any final FY2015 appropriations deal. Unfortunately, despite continued strong funding for the Food for Peace Title II program, these two reform provisions were not included in the final omnibus spending bill. InterAction will continue to push for these provisions in the FY2016 appropriations process.
For further information on InterAction's advocacy work on food aid reform, please contact Katie Lee.