WASHINGTON (AP) — Food aid groups are urging the Obama administration to overhaul the way the United States helps starving people abroad.
The White House will not say whether Obama’s budget proposal, scheduled to come out next week, will seek to change the way foreign food aid is distributed. But food aid groups, farm groups and their allies in Congress are preparing for the possibility.
At issue is whether the government should ship U.S.-grown food overseas to aid developing countries and starving people or simply help those countries with cash to buy food. The United States now donates much of its food aid by shipping food abroad, a process many food aid groups say is inefficient.
Former President Bill Clinton said after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that U.S. policies to flood developing countries with agricultural imports — a boon to rice farmers in his native Arkansas — had been a mistake after many of Haiti’s own rice farmers were put out of business.
Three years later, aid groups are pushing Obama to make the kind of change Clinton argued for and send cash in lieu of crops.
Sending crops abroad has long been a profitable enterprise for American farmers and shippers, and those groups are strongly opposing any changes to the program.