Reps. Crawford, Mann, Garamendi, Panetta Prioritize American-Grown Commodities for International Food Aid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov)

Reps. Crawford, Mann, Garamendi, Panetta Prioritize American-Grown Commodities for International Food Aid

6/22/2023

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), Tracey Mann (KS-01), John Garamendi (CA-08), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) introduced legislation that would ensure that U.S.-grown commodities remain the cornerstone of international food aid. 

“American food aid should be produced in America,” said Rep. Crawford. “It is disingenuous to continue to use funds to purchase foreign commodities and call it “American aid”. No one knows the business of feeding the world better than American farmers. I am pleased to join my colleagues, Reps. Mann, Garamendi, and Panetta, in prioritizing American farmers by sharing their abundant production to fight global hunger, and making needed, efficient changes to our international food aid programs.”

“America’s international food aid programs have enjoyed bipartisan support for more than 65 years because they are simple, effective, and they feed millions of vulnerable people around the world each year,” said Rep. Mann. “Through these programs, America fortifies our allies, counters the influence of foreign adversaries, creates new markets and trading partners, and stops wars before they start. For decades, America has purchased and donated American-grown commodities to execute our foreign assistance programs. Over time, however, transferring cash and purchasing commodities from foreign competitors with Food for Peace dollars has become the norm. This shift has diminished transparency and accountability, reduced the procurement and shipment of American-grown food for hungry people, and jeopardized more than six decades of bipartisan support for our international food aid programs. This bill puts a stake in the ground: it’s a noble thing to feed hungry people, and we should use American commodities as we do it.” 

“As a fourth-generation rancher and now representing the birthplace of northern California’s maritime industry in Congress, I can tell you that American agriculture feeds the world, and United States-flag vessels are ready to deliver critical food aid to those countries most in need,” said Rep. John Garamendi. “Congress always intended for these foreign relief programs to be a triple bottom line: A win for America’s farmers in years when they grow more than they can sell. A win for our nation’s shipbuilding and maritime industries, guaranteeing cargo during peacetime so we have the US-flag vessels needed during wartime. And a win for projecting the generous spirit of Americans to help those starving around the world. Our bipartisan bill restores this careful balance to ensure that taxpayer dollars for foreign relief are spent on American-grown foods transported on US-flag vessels, not foreign alternatives. I look forward to working with Congressman Mann and my other colleagues to make this bill a top priority in the coming Farm Bill.”

“Our nation’s international food aid programs tap into the immense bounty of American producers to feed the world. But over time, a shift from American commodities to cash assistance has undermined this mission,” said Rep. Panetta. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to restore the original intent of these international food aid programs and ensure they are prioritizing American-grown commodities. Doing so will improve transparency, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness of international food assistance.”

The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 would: 
Restore the emphasis on American food by reinstating the Food for Peace program’s original intent to use U.S.-grown commodities to fight global hunger, rather than using American taxpayers’ dollars to purchase food from America’s competitors.

Restore transparency by reducing overhead costs, preserving resources to purchase life-saving food, and protecting at least 50% of the budget for purchasing U.S.-grown commodities and delivering them to the destination country.

Restore accountability by requiring U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to report to Congress on all program implementation and budget details and requiring U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval.

Restore efficiency by creating a more effective release mechanism for the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust in favor of a streamlined USDA release protocol to feed people more quickly.

“America’s farmers are proud that their efforts can help feed hungry families at home and abroad,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “It’s crucial that food grown in the United States is prioritized in international food assistance programs.”

“The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 supports more Kansas wheat going to more people around the world who are in need,” said Brian Linin, U.S. Wheat Associates Board of Directors member, Food Aid Working Group member, and farmer in Goodland, KS. “This legislation is an opportunity to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent in a manner that truly makes an impact on global hunger. Commodities produced by U.S. farmers should always be the first choice when it comes to international food aid programs.”

“U.S. millers are proud of the role they play in alleviating world hunger through food aid,” said Kim Cooper, Senior Director of Government Affairs for North American Millers’ Association. “We applaud Representatives Mann, Garamendi, Crawford, and Panetta for championing this effort to bolster U.S. international food assistance at zero cost to the American taxpayer. These reforms are long overdue and will ensure the longevity of these critical, life-saving programs by restoring them to their roots of being purely in-kind donation programs.”

“The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 delivers mutually beneficial results here at home and abroad by restoring accountability, transparency, and a Made-in-America focus to our international food security programs,” said AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan. “We must seize this opportunity to strengthen the state of our maritime and agricultural industries while maintaining our commitment to fighting global hunger.”

“The International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots strongly supports the American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023,” said Captain Don Marcus, President of International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. “This legislation will increase the amount of life-saving agricultural commodities provided by America’s farmers to help feed the world’s hungriest people through much-needed reforms to the international food aid programs. At the same time, this legislation will strengthen America’s national security and commercial sealift readiness capability by increasing the amount of cargo available to U.S.-flag vessels and their American citizen crews. We are proud to join our colleagues in the agricultural community in this extremely important effort.”

“The National Sorghum Producers commend Representatives Mann, Garamendi, Crawford, and Panetta for bipartisan leadership through their American Farmers Feed the World Act as our nation feeds and sustains millions of vulnerable people globally each year, said Craig Meeker, Chair of National Sorghum Producers, and Amy France, Vice Chair of the National Sorghum Producers. “Our nation’s farmers have a long and storied history supporting these vital humanitarian efforts around the world and this legislation helps keep the American farmer at the center of America’s international food aid policies.” 

More than 50 organizations support the American Farmers Feed the World Act, including:
AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, American Association of Port Authorities, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Maritime Congress, American Maritime Officers, American Maritime Officers Service, American Soybean Association, Bunge, Cantera Partners, Didion Milling Inc, Grain Millers, Idaho Grain Producers Association, Inlandboatmen’s Union, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 23 (Tacoma), ILWU Washington Area District Council, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association, Kendall Packaging Corporation, LifeLine Foods, Liberty Maritime Corporation, Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, Marine Firemen’s Union, Maritime Institute for Research and Industrial Development, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Sorghum Producers, Natural Enrichment Industries, North American Millers’ Association, Oregon Wheat Growers League, Patriot Maritime, Port of Grays Harbor, Port of Kalama, Port of Lake Charles, Port of New Orleans, Port of Vancouver USA, REPCO, Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, Schuyler Line Navigation Company, Seafarers International Union, SEMO Milling, Transportation Institute, TVS, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, USA Rice, US Ocean LLC, US Pea and Lentil Trade Association, US Wheat Associates, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

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