The Royce-Engel amendment to reform US food aid failed 203-220 in the House this week, as did the farm bill to which it was attached. The food aid amendment would have relaxed requirements that the United States buy American commodities and ship them on US ships. It's painful to see a smart foreign aid reform that would save lives and taxpayer money suffer a narrow defeat.
CGD Policy Blogs
There are many, many problems with the House farm bill being debated this week but there are two amendments that would make significant improvements. The first (#55 in this list) is a version of the Royce-Bass Food Aid Reform Act that would provide authorization to untie up to 45 percent of the emergency food aid budget and allow the US Agency for International Development to provide assistance in whatever form—food purchased in the US or locally, vouchers, or cash transfers—would help the most people the quickest.
The Obama administration’s FY14 budget request included a food aid reform proposal that the administration estimated would allow US food aid to reach an addition 2-4 million people per year—for roughly what the United States spends now. My colleagues Kim Elliott and Will McKitterick have a new brief out that argues this is a conservative estimate. Their calculations suggest that the reforms would help at least 4 million more people, and maybe as many as 10 million for the same amount of money as under the current inefficient system.