News / Economy

US Agriculture Industry Opposes Changes to Food Aid Program

US Agriculture Industry Opposes Changes to Food Aid Programi
X
June 18, 2013 6:59 PM
The Food for Peace program costs about $1.5 billion annually and provides U.S.-grown food to countries in need. But President Barack Obama’s proposed 2014 budget includes changes to the 59-year-old program -- replacing some commodity shipments with direct cash purchases in foreign countries. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports -- while some aid agencies welcome the proposed changes, farmers and millers in the midwestern United States say the changes will hurt their business and cost U.S. jobs.
US Agriculture Industry Opposes Changes to Food Aid Program
Kane Farabaugh
The Food for Peace program costs about $1.5 billion annually and provides U.S.-grown food to countries in need. But President Barack Obama’s proposed 2014 budget includes changes to the 59-year-old program - replacing some commodity shipments with direct cash purchases in foreign countries. While some aid agencies welcome the proposed changes, farmers and millers in the midwestern United States say the changes will hurt their business and cost U.S. jobs.

Plano, Illinois, farmer Bill Wykes has been behind the wheel of a tractor for almost four decades, planting and harvesting corn and soybeans on land his family has owned even longer.

Throughout his entire career, he’s known that even though it’s a small amount, part of what he grows will help those who need it most.

“We’re glad to see it go and be used and help millions of people over the years to prevent malnutrition, starvation and things like that,” Wykes said.

Since the 1950s, commodities produced in the fertile farmlands of the United States have traveled across the globe to feed more than 3 billion people in 150 countries under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Peace program.  

It’s been a source of pride for farmers like Wykes, who are strongly opposed to the Obama administration’s plan to send cash to countries in need instead of commodities.

“It’s a ridiculous, ridiculous idea. These things can only be done in certain areas and the United States has the best quality, and why not give them the best quality instead of trying to provide them with cash to go to a market that doesn’t have the quality or the commodity that is really needed,” Wykes said.

But U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak said changes to the program are necessary because it takes too long to get U.S. food aid where it’s urgently needed.

“The way we currently do business can basically add 11 to 14 weeks of delay in terms of getting food where it's needed most in an emergency circumstance, and the reality is that is far too long.  This is about saving time and saving lives,” Vilsak said.

But for Dow Didion, who runs Didion Milling in Cambria, Wisconsin, saving time could mean eliminating some of his 212 employees.

“We have a large number of people in this portion of the business from processing to packaging to quality assurance to logistics, so it would impact us in the jobs area,” Didion said.

Didion’s mill processes and packages hundreds of thousands of bags of U.S. food aid each month.  Each bag with a U.S. flag is bound for foreign ports.  Didion says that sends a stronger message than money.

“I don’t feel that cash will have the same impact that a bag that says “gift of the United States” will have. We are concerned about feeding the starving people a quality product, and have concerns if the program turns into a cash program, what will that money be used for,” Didion said.

Farm Bill legislation making its way through both houses of Congress significantly scales back President Obama’s plan to overhaul the Food for Peace program.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.