Few would argue that the right thing for the United States, a country where farmers produce crops in excess, is to share its wealth with the hungry people of the world.
But there are roadblocks, bureaucracies, policy differences, and other obstacles between men and women who grow non-perishable commodities like wheat, soybeans, and beans, and the people who risk their lives to eat them. .
“On one level, this seems like a simple response to global hunger, as nearly a billion people are food insecure, meaning they live an active, healthy life. We don’t have enough nutritious, affordable and safe food to send,” said Thoric Cederstrom. He is a sustainable agriculture and food security expert based in Geneva, Switzerland, and a food aid consultant for the U.S. Dried Bean Council.
The simple answer seems to be to distribute the United States’ surplus food to the world’s hungry, but it is much more complex, involving both political and humanitarian motives.
Fargo on January 20, 2022. Cederstrom spoke with the farmer via his Zoom from Mexico, where he was on a trade mission.
“The United States has used its abundant agricultural resources to achieve many of its foreign policy objectives around the world,” Cederström said.
Food aid programs, like all US government programs, have become increasingly complex since their inception more than a century ago.
Food aid is often controversial among legislators drafting farm bills. Some think more of the Farm Bill’s money should be spent on productive agriculture, while others want more spending on nutrition programs and food aid.
The USDA 2023 budget for fiscal year 2023 calls for $2.2 billion in funding to promote international food and U.S. agricultural exports abroad. Most of that funding, $1.75 billion, comes from Food for Peace grants. In addition, he said $243 million will go to the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program.
Food aid started after World War I
When Herbert Hoover directed a program to ship food and agricultural products to Europe. It also contained provisions designed to benefit American farmers.
After World War II, the United States established food aid as part of its foreign policy and diplomacy, and increased agricultural contributions to its multinational response through organizations including the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. US State Department.
In the years immediately following World War II, the United States government initiated short-term food aid programs such as the Government and Occupied Territories Relief Program and the Marshall Plan.
As the Cold War began to escalate and, at the same time, American farmers produced surplus goods, in 1954 the U.S. Congress created the Agricultural Trade and Development Assistance Act or Public Law 480, commonly referred to as Food for Peace. The purpose of the program was to reduce U.S. agricultural surpluses, improve domestic markets, and revitalize new markets abroad, according to the U.S. State Department website.
Food for Peace transitioned from tying politics and food aid to providing food as a humanitarian effort in the 1970s during the Carter administration, and in 1985 Congress passed the Food Security Act. to countries that need them.
These donations require long-distance transportation, personnel to source and deliver the goods, and an accounting system, Cederstrom said.
The emergency clause of the PL 480 program, which allows donations from United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and governments to governments in emergencies such as natural disasters and war, is generally supported and controversial. he said no.
But there are concerns about non-emergency food aid focused on chronic food insecurity, Cederstrom said.
Criticism of non-emergency programs creates dependence on food, undermines local production in countries that receive food aid, and reduces distribution, such as providing it to those who do not need it rather than those who need it. It says it can cause problems, Cederstrom said.
Organizations participating in the food aid program, including the United States and the Northeast Bean Growers Association, have responded by making food aid more appropriate to where it is needed. rice field. They do this by analyzing the market, offering commodities not available in the local culture, and improving pipeline management, he said.
Catholic Relief Services supports livelihoods and seeks to integrate food security programs that distribute cash to people so they can buy their own food in exchange for locally sourced and donated goods. We have sought to improve our food aid program through efforts including:
Many organizations besides Catholic Relief Services are also revising their programs to focus on global and regional purchases, Cederstrom said.
Providing food aid is one of the goals of the Nosabest Bean Growers Association, said Eric Samuelson, president of the Nosabest Bean Growers Association and a farmer in Crookston, Minnesota. .
“The constant need for food aid around the world has led to a greater emphasis on the use and development of food aid programs at Noosabest,” Samuelson said.
Partnering with the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and Central Valley Bean Co-op in Buxton, North Dakota, Fall 2022
, a faith-based nonprofit humanitarian organization based in Springfield, Missouri. Together, they provided food aid to children in Guatemala and Honduras in the form of her 60,000 meals from pinto beans.
With trucks available to transport the goods, Convoy of Hope received pinto beans from Central Valley Bean Corp in the fall of 2022 and transported them to ports where they are shipped to Guatemala and Honduras.
Alyssa Killingsworth, Partnership Relations Manager, Convoy of Hope, said: “Convoy of Hope is happy to partner with you all,” she told farmers at Northeastern Bean Day. spoke about their desire to partner with dealers to procure products for food aid.
In addition to Central America, the Convoy of Hope is providing food aid to people in Africa, Asia and Europe, Killingsworth said.
This non-profit organization strives to provide a stable supply of food for school feeding programs.
“When we offer these types of products to our students in our dietary program, we want to make sure they are optional throughout their time at school, rather than just adding something and then putting it back,” Killingsworth said. Told.
Convoy of Hope aims to form more partnerships with edible bean companies, as well as the Northharvest Bean Growers Association and Central Valley Bean Co-op.
“We want this to continue,” said Killingsworth.
Central Valley Bean Co-op plans to further develop its partnership with Convoy of Hope, said David Scholand, sales and marketing manager for Central Valley Bean Co-op. Scholand said he was on the Northarvest Bean Day Food Assistance Committee.
“We’re already doing food aid efforts in different ways. We probably stock up plus or minus trucks a week and go to food aid. A non-profit Christian ministry. It’s great.” , you can give back,” Scholand said.
Convoy of Hope has a logistics team to facilitate the pinto bean donation process, Scholand said.
Partnering with non-governmental organizations such as Convoy of Hope benefits both the farmers who grow the beans and the starving people who receive the goods, Samuelson said.
Those who eat them are consuming a nutritionally dense product high in fiber and rich in protein.Farmers have another outlet for their crops.
“We can distribute our beans all over the world, so there are other uses for our product,” says Samuelson.