Great news! Today, President Obama signed into law the first real food aid reforms in recent memory. After two years of hard work, ONE members and our NGO partners were able to convince Congress to incorporate a number of much-needed reforms to our food aid programming into HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM Bill).
These new reforms ensure that, when millions of lives are on the line due to a shortage of food, the generosity of the American people will reach more people, more quickly, and at lower cost.
Need a refresher on US food aid reform? Check out this nifty animated video from our partners at CARE:
While these reforms are important first steps, we will continue to seek ways to improve the efficiency of US food aid programs and enable the US to assist more hungry people around the world at lower costs.
The new law authorizes nearly $1 trillion in spending with a primary focus on domestic farm subsidies and nutrition programs.
However, it also contains the hard-fought-for food aid reform language that ONE members have been advocating over the last two years. The FARRM Bill is authorized for 5 years. In particular, the 2014 FARRM Bill addresses these key reform principles that ONE supported:
Authorize local and regional procurement as a tool for delivering food assistance: This will allow food to reach those in critical need of food faster and often cheaper than if it all was purchased in the United States. Millions more lives could be saved with such flexibility, especially in emergency situations where the need is immediate.
Reduce monetization through increased flexibility of program funding and establish cost recovery targets for monetization activities: Monetization is the practice of sending commodities to service providers in the field, such as NGOs, who would then sell the commodities to raise funds for other activities. While ONE recognizes that monetization is not as efficient as other methods of delivering food aid, we do concede that it will continue to have a role. But, it must be made to be as efficient as possible.
Thanks to everyone who worked to ensure these small, but critical first steps were taken by Congress. In this difficult budget environment, getting the best value out of each dollar means more lives saved. ONE believes that these reforms will put us on the road to better stewardship of our limited resources without sacrificing the lives of those most in need.