[lit-ideas] Re: Priorities

  • From: Robert.Paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Robert Paul)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: 29 Dec 2004 14:56:52 PST

U.S. Cutting Food Aid That Is Aimed at Self-Sufficiency 
By ELIZABETH BECKER 

December 22, 2004

In one of the first signs of the effects of the ever tightening federal budget,
in the past two months the Bush administration has reduced its contributions to
global food aid programs aimed at helping millions of people climb out of
poverty. 

With the budget deficit growing and President Bush promising to reduce spending,
the administration has told representatives of several charities that it was
unable to honor some earlier promises and would have money to pay for food only
in emergency crises like that in Darfur, in western Sudan. The cutbacks,
estimated by some charities at up to $100 million, come at a time when the
number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years and all food
programs are being stretched. 

As a result, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and other charities
have suspended or eliminated programs that were intended to help the poor feed
themselves through improvements in farming, education and health. 

''We have between five and seven million people who have been affected by these
cuts,'' said Lisa Kuennen, a food aid expert at Catholic Relief Services. ''We
had approval for all of these programs, often a year in advance. We hired staff,
signed agreements with governments and with local partners, and now we have had
to delay everything.'' 

Ms. Kuennen said Catholic Relief Services had to cut back programs in Indonesia,
Malawi and Madagascar, among other countries. 

Officials of several charities, some Republican members of Congress and some
administration officials say the food aid budget for the fiscal year that began
Oct. 1 was at least $600 million less than what charities and aid agencies would
need to carry out current programs. 

[snip]

Several Republican and Democratic members of Congress are joining with food aid
advocates to convince the administration that food aid should not be cut. 

Last month, Representative Jo Ann Emerson, Republican of Missouri, led an effort
with more than 30 other legislators that persuaded the administration to release
200,000 tons of grain from a trust fund for emergency food aid to Sudan. 

Now she is lobbying the administration to finance foreign food aid programs
fully and, if possible, increase the money. ''I'm not saying the president is
opposed to this, but we haven't had any indication what will happen,'' said Ms.
Emerson, who emphasized that hers was a bipartisan effort. 

She also said Europe should increase its food aid and relieve some of the
pressure on the United States, which is by far the largest donor to United
Nations food programs, contributing almost half of the total. 

Further complicating aid programs is a debate at the World Trade Organization
over concerns that the United States has used food aid to dump surplus
commodities in foreign countries where the supply has undercut local farmers'
earnings. 


Copyright 2004  The New York Times Company
[Forwarded for scholarly purposes by Robert Paul robert.paul@xxxxxxxx] 
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