NEW YORK, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to Senate and House hearings this week on foreign assistance and the president's FY14 budget proposal , here is a statement for attribution from Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, an organization that has been deeply involved in the fight for international food aid reform:
"We enthusiastically support the proposal for international food aid reform in President Obama's FY 2014 federal budget plan. Under the Obama proposal our nation's food aid would reach millions more people by encouraging the purchase of local food from farmers and producers in developing countries rather than shipping the vast majority of U.S. food aid from the U.S. AJWS believes that the U.S. needs to help countries work towards self-sufficiency and security, and the Obama plan moves us in that direction. The President's approach would be more efficient and effective, feed more hungry people worldwide today and contribute to a hunger-free world in the future.
"Based on our many decades of experience with projects in the developing world, we support this plan. Specifically, we work extensively in Haiti, which has received significant amounts of U.S. food aid over the past several years. This aid has undercut local farmers by flooding the market with rice and other crops from the U.S. and increased Haitian dependence on foreign aid instead of helping to revive Haiti's own agricultural production. Local Haitian farmers strongly support U.S. reforms that would use food aid dollars to bolster their ability to grow their own crops instead of using them to buy food in the U.S. and ship it to Haiti.
"President Obama's proposed reform would give the U.S. government the flexibility to purchase almost half of U.S. food aid in developing countries or to provide vouchers for people to buy food themselves in local markets in areas where there is food available, but prices are too high. This approach will get more food to more people in need faster, and boost their capacity to feed themselves. We urge Congress to act now to execute this overdue reform of the 60-year old food aid program, and we applaud the President for his leadership in proposing this crucial overhaul."