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US food aid - shipping corporations get half of the $2Billion spent every year, and other strings!

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posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 07:00 AM
Yep ATS, you better believe it, even when it comes to starving people you can be sure that the Corporations get their slice of the pie!

U.S. Food Aid Contributing to Africa's Hunger?

Drought-stricken Ethiopia is pleading for food aid again to stave off starvation, but some critics are complaining that the policies of the country's most generous donor, the United States, is exacerbating the cycle of starvation.

U.S. law requires that food aid money be spent on food grown in the U.S., at least half of it must be packed in the U.S. and most of it must be transported in U.S. ships. The Oxfam report, "Band Aids and Beyond," claims that is far more expensive and time consuming than buying food in the region.

"For roughly $1 spent on aid, the U.S. taxpayer is paying $2 to get it here," said Carolyn Gluck, an Oxfam spokeswoman.

Here are some excerpt from the June 2009 Government Accountability Office report titiled:

'International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement
Provides Opportunities to Enhance U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May
Constrain Its Implementation'

In short, they found:

Average Cost Differential (percentage by which the cost of U.S. in-kind
food aid differs from the cost of local procurement):

Worldwide: 25% more;
Sub-Saharan Africa: 34% more;
Asia: 29% more;
Latin America: 2% less.

So approximately a third of the money is wasted buying US food because:

Most funding for U.S. food aid is authorized under the Food for Peace Act and cannot be used to purchase foreign-grown food.
Funding under the act, approximately $2 billion per year, is restricted
to the purchase of U.S.-grown agricultural commodities.

And the shipping of the food is also restricted by US Law:

The Cargo Preference Act, as amended, requires that up to
75 percent of the gross tonnage of agricultural foreign assistance
cargo be transported on U.S.-flag vessels.

Resulting in a situation where:

U.S. Government Accountability Office reports show that of the nearly $2 billion a year allocated to foreign food aid, more than half of the funds are spent on transport, not the food.

Okay, so the US is a world leader in foreign aid, and millions would starve if it wasn't for their generosity. But do policies like this, where US interests are looked after to the detriment of the recipients, make sense?

It seems that if they were truly intent on helping the starving, they would remove these barriers that reduce the efficiency of the program, the ability to get the food where it's needed quickly (because they insist on US flagged ships) and the laws that increase the costs of like for like food.

I guess it comes down to this, should giving be giving, without self-serving strings attached? Or are they just being sensible by looking after US interests first? Should they just be grateful to receive the aid, or is it legitimate to flag up these issues to try and get the US to make sure more cents in the dollar go on food rather than themselves?

Related Links:

ABC News

World Food Programme


[edit on 29-10-2009 by kiwifoot]

posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:33 PM
I posted this at a time when most US members would have bben away with the fairies (asleep), so I thought I'd give this a shmeful bump, to get their opinion!


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