The American Soybean Association (ASA) has expressed its strong opposition to a plan it understands will be proposed as part of the White House’s 2014 budget that would restructure the nation’s foreign aid programs by eliminating the Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs and replace them with a much smaller cash account managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs provide nutritious foods to developing markets and have been a key priority for ASA for multiple years,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “We are expressly opposed to the replacement of in-kind food aid with cash aid, which takes a key market away from American producers, placing aid recipients at a potential risk by allowing them to purchase commodities from foreign suppliers whose safety and quality are unknown.”
ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), the long-term market development arm of the soybean industry, works within both the Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs to help meet food and feed needs while developing long-term markets for U.S. soy.
“The good work done by WISHH is a direct result of their productive partnership with these programs,” added Murphy. “A restructuring like the one proposed in the president’s budget would have a disastrous effect on that productivity and on the ability of WISHH to help the world’s hungry with American soy.”
ASA is among the leading drivers of a broad-based coalition to oppose the restructuring that includes representative groups in the agriculture, supply chain and logistics, labor, non-governmental organization (NGO), and development industries.
“The diversity of our coalition shows just how important these programs are to our development work overseas,” said Murphy. “It’s not just commodity agriculture that wants these programs protected; it’s everyone that has a hand in what has been throughout its history a very successful and impactful foreign aid program.”
The groups collaborated on a series of letters to President Obama and to Senate leaders expressing opposition to the plan and citing the positive impacts of both programs both at home and abroad. “Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping, and transporting 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 alternative foreign aid programs,” wrote the groups. “Overseas, Food for Peace has a strong track record of reducing child malnutrition and increasing incomes and food supplies for very poor and vulnerable populations. Food for Progress expands business and income opportunities along the agriculture value chain and improves the quality and quantity of food supplies. Both of those programs are proven models for addressing global food insecurity.”