Statement on the House’s Proposed Farm Bill Text

Photo by Rahmad Himawan is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Statement on the House’s Proposed Farm Bill Text

On May 17, Chairman Thompson of the House Agriculture Committee released the Farm, Food, and National Security Act, his proposed bill text for reauthorization of the 2024 Farm Bill.

Below is InterAction’s response to the proposed text:

As over 735 million people do not know where their next meal will come from and nearly one in nine people suffer from severe food insecurity, it is imperative that we address the ongoing global food crisis. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have proposed legislation that continues vital U.S. international food aid programs, including Food for Peace Title II and McGovern-Dole Food for Education. These initiatives are essential for saving lives during emergencies and addressing the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition, while also maintaining U.S.-grown in-kind food aid as a cornerstone of Food for Peace.

However, the current Farm Bill proposal under consideration in the House threatens to undermine the effectiveness of Food for Peace, a program that combats global hunger and strengthens community resilience.

It is crucial for Food for Peace programs to have the flexibility to use the most effective form of aid in every context to save lives, protect livelihoods, and strengthen communities’ resilience to chronic challenges and sudden crises. Investments in long-term food security and resilience-building programs are an efficient use of taxpayer dollars. For every $1 invested in enhancing resilience, $3 is saved in costly humanitarian aid.

The House Agriculture Committee Majority draft bill ultimately eliminates NGOs ability to use all the tools in the toolbox to address hunger and malnutrition, limiting vital resources and services for millions of people, pushing them closer to extreme hunger. The proposed text would limit spending on costs other than on U.S. commodity procurement and ocean freight, effectively establishing a 50% floor for U.S. food and ocean transportation in Food for Peace. Not only is this requirement unworkable—it does not leave enough funding in the budget to ensure food can be transported beyond foreign ports and responsibly and effectively distributed to people in need, which would result in reaching 2.3 million fewer people. This change, along with other spending directives, risk crowding out funding currently being used to implement resilience-building programs that address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition.

The bill also introduces bureaucratic obstacles that could delay the implementation of critical humanitarian food security responses, where timeliness is crucial. The changes in the draft text upset the delicate balance of benefiting U.S. farmers, shippers, and people around the world who are facing food insecurity.

We support efforts to strengthen the Food for Peace Title II program to address the ongoing global food crisis and empower more people to feed themselves. As the reauthorization process continues, we hope our concerns about the House draft bill’s proposed changes to Food for Peace will lead to improvements in the final bicameral, bipartisan 2024 Farm Bill text.

We are grateful for Congress’s decades-long dedication to addressing global food insecurity and malnutrition, enabling Food for Peace Title II emergency and non-emergency programs to reach up to 55 million people a year.

We look forward to continuing to work with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to protect and enhance the reach of U.S. international food and nutrition programs and to strengthen program effectiveness in the 2024 Farm Bill, using all available tools to address global food insecurity and malnutrition.

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