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American Food Aid. I Need Your Brains. What Position to Support?

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posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 10:15 PM
Dear ATSers,

This is an important issue which is just coming up for a new approach under the Obama administration. I honestly don't know which of three sides to support and I'm looking for help from all of you. Everyone else seems to have an opinion:

WASHINGTON — An Obama administration plan to change the way the United States distributes its international food aid has touched off an intense lobbying campaign by a coalition of shipping companies, agribusiness and charitable groups . . .

Here's the current situation. For the last 60 years the government has bought food from American farmers and shipped it to countries needing our food aid. The Administration wants something new:

The administration is proposing that the government buy food in developing countries instead of shipping food from American farmers overseas, a process that typically takes months.

The administration is also reportedly considering ending the controversial practice of food aid “monetization,” a process by which Washington gives American-grown grains to international charities. The groups then sell the products on the market in poor countries and use the money to finance their antipoverty programs.

People who want the change say:

. . . charities like Oxfam and CARE support the Obama administration change, saying reform is needed. The groups say that a large percentage of food aid is spent on shipping costs, and as the costs have risen the amount of food the United States has shipped to countries that need it has fallen.

The groups say they are especially glad to see the Obama administration end the practice of giving charities food to sell in local markets to help finance their antipoverty and development programs because the system is plagued with inefficiencies, and it may also hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.

Proponents of the plan, however, say it would enable the United States to feed about 17 million more people each year, while helping to fight poverty by buying the crops of farmers in poor countries.
People who don't want the change say:

“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,”

James Caponiti, executive director of the American Maritime Congress, a trade group, said the proposed changes to the food aid program would have a devastating effect on shippers, because the law requires that 75 percent of food aid has to be transported on American-flagged ships.

“We are talking about hundreds of jobs lost,” Mr. Caponiti said. “This is a very, very bad idea.”

David Evans, the American president of the Phoenix-based charity Food for the Hungry, one of several aid charities that signed the letter opposing changes to the food aid program, worries that Congress may cut the food aid budget altogether if federal dollars are used to buy food abroad.

“This sets a dangerous precedent,” he said. “If the money is not supporting the purchasing of U.S. commodities, then it will lose support in Congress. And as a result, $1.5 billion in critical resources will be gone.”
My very preliminary thoughts: If we buy the food in the needy country, how exactly is it done? Do we give the government the money to buy food for the people? Forgive my cynicism, but won't a lot of that go to weapons or palaces? If not the government, do we give it to the hungry individuals? Line up all the poor and give them each a $100 bill?

And what does that do to food prices in that country? If the US increases the demand for food in the country will that send their food prices skyrocketing?

Currently, I'm mildly opposed to the change, but I'm open to learn. Please give me your thoughts.

Oh, yes. The link to the New York Times article: Foreign food aid - NY Times

With respect,

posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 10:47 PM
Reply to post by charles1952

If you take an economic geography class you see that prices and proximity are intertwined. Most mass starvation occurs because the people are too poor to buy food. If they were flush with cash, but lacked domestic food production, they can import it.

So the question is: what's the goal and who do you want to see get paid?

Buying food overseas to feed overseas people would reduce overhead associated with shipping costs allowing them to purchase more food, but Americans are cut out of the equation, so we're just giving the money to foreign farmer.

Neither course is a solution as the underlying poverty isn't solved, so I would rather Americans get paid.

Posted Via ATS Mobile:

edit on 5-4-2013 by GreenGlassDoor because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 10:56 PM
The sad truth is that much of international food aid still ends up in the hands of the developing country's military and often does not actually get to the people in need. Obviously some does, but much of it does not.

The other problem is that often the US (and others) ties food aid to other agreements, that is, it becomes conditional. This is very wrong and only goes to service the multinational companies.


posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 11:11 PM
Well, first I wonder just when we not only became the Food Stamp nation to 50 million or so of our own citizens, but now, apparently feel the need to add millions more to the rolls OUTSIDE the nation?

#1. I'm sure this won't hurt the US one bit.. After all, we all know farmers just have profit rolling out the 'ol farm gate and need their tractors just to haul all the cash around all the time. Yessir .. The farmers who remain outside the Corporate farms won't feel a thing. I'm sure.

#2. I thought when this President was talking about reducing the US manipulation around the world...the Military was only one aspect. He never mentioned that we'd be reducing one area to do a replacement with another.

Uhhh... surreal is the word for this attitude behind a policy like this. Just surreal. Buying local over there means we're also directly pumping more CASH out of the United States directly into the economies of foreign nations.

Heck... We're all rich right? We didn't need any of that to stay here either. We're such greedy people.... huh?

@ Op... Personally, I recommend a negative position.

posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 11:16 PM

i`ll be the one to read between the lines shall i

GMO aid....its better for them to grow their own!

heres some GMO corn seeds...corden off some land... and spread this GMO, market cornering poison legacy to our great grand kids...

is that about right ?

TBH, and serious for a sec....they dont need our aid...they are willing to put in alot more effort than we believe they will, we dont need to spend millions on aid, just give them the security to help themselves.
so yes, we can cut off long as weve put in the ground work

edit on 5-4-2013 by thePharaoh because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 11:20 PM
reply to post by charles1952

You don't need everyone else's brain. You need your own heart. What does it tell you? Listening to to others intelectualise an argument will not help you to know what is right and wrong. Just think about the options, google a little on the subject, and then listen to your heart. Then you will find the right answer.

posted on Apr, 5 2013 @ 11:55 PM
for actual food i would keep shipping from the US as the farmers need all the help they can get.

however a better long term solution would be instead of just endlessly shipping food that instead they try to help in a far more lasting and positive way. help the local farmers set up to grow their own food. help with irrigation and soil fertility issues. give them seed stock and teach how to create their own seed stock as well. keep GMO, pesticides and all the other crap out of it. give farmers basic tools like animal drawn plows and such, keep the technology down to a level they can keep going (heck they still use carabao power here for a lot of the work). help them help themselves. "give a man a fish and feed him for the day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life". not only would it be a lasting help, but would also i would think cut down on some of the graft that takes place with food shipments.

shipping food should be for emergencies like a crop that has failed or been wiped out, and for natural disasters. it really should not be an ongoing affair that creates a dependency on outside help.

posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 01:23 AM
To all of you,

Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be part of thread with universally thoughtful and respectful comments. I'm only sorry I had to leave for a while and couldn't respond immediately.

We should be able to tell which governments are so corrupt that they would take the food intended for their people and use it to enrich that country's "elite." (thinking North Korea, some African countries, etc.) I can't see any way to help the people in those countries. Perhaps they need a revolution to return human rights to themselves. I know the current administration used "Responsibility to Protect" as justification to replace Libya's government, but I can't imagine using that policy world wide. I hate to write those countries off, but without a government change I don't see an alternative.

As noted above, emergency food aid is always more acceptable, but even then countries like North Korea have food emergencies and I'd be very reluctant to ship food there.

In other countries, perhaps the solution, as hinted at above, is to ship agricultural experts and temporary food aid. With an emphasis on "temporary." "We'll help feed your country for two or three years, but by the end of that time, with our instruction, you should be able to feed yourselves." Just as Americans don't like having to live off the government, it must be tough on another country's national pride to depend on foreigners for survival.

So where do we get the food we hand out? If it was available for purchase in the suffering country, they wouldn't need our food aid. So if they don't have it, doesn't that mean we have to produce it and ship it?

Thanks very much for encouraging me to search my heart. I was reminded that the purpose of the food aid should be to restore health and dignity to the people of the suffering country, not make us feel good.

Again, I can't thank all of you enough. Stars are such a feeble reward. This is what I was hoping for from ATS.

With respect,

posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 01:27 AM
reply to post by charles1952

Personally, any programme that fed the most people would be the one I would go with.

But then again, I'm just a bottom-line type of guy.

posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 03:14 AM
Put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself a simple question.
"How can I screw the American people most efficiently in this endeavor, but still look like I tried to do the right thing?"
There's your answer for what not to support.

Now ask yourself:
"What's the right thing to do?"
And don't limit yourself to their 3 choices. Now you know what to support.

posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 03:23 AM
reply to post by Klassified

Cear Klassified,

I suppose I deserve getting more questions tossed at me. This is taking more thought than I expected. I'm still leaning toward my answer of a few posts up,however. I'll take a nap and see if I can get an answer in my dreams.

With respect,

posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 03:29 AM
Many years ago a group of Aussie Vietnam vets returned to a village in Vietnam where they had been stationed / zoned during the war. They took with them some equipment. When they left the village had a clean water supply via a bore, generator, pump and tank.

When they left they felt that they had achieved something and the Village was happy to have a safe water supply.

A year passed and one of the men took his wife with him for a holiday. They stopped at the village as one would.

The only thing left were the two concrete pads. A month after it was all installed the army turned up and took every thing except the concrete.

How can you help when crap like this happens.


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