(Extensions of Remarks - June 25, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E966]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                           HON. NITA M. LOWEY

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, June 19, 2013

       The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of 
     the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 1947) to 
     provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and 
     other programs of the Department of Agriculture through 
     fiscal year 2018, and for other purposes:

  Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of the Royce/Engel amendment 
to make U.S. International food aid programs more efficient. The United 
States is a generous nation and since the 1950s has fed billions of 
people around the world through the Food for Peace program. However, 
nearly sixty years later, the world has changed and the program needs 
to change with it. The status quo is no longer an option. We must act 
now to change with the times.
  The United States does not have the surpluses it did decades ago and 
it is now forced to purchase food on the commercial markets. Near 
record-high farm prices have meant our food aid dollars do not go as 
far. According to independent analyses, the number of direct recipients 
of our food aid has dropped from 74 million in 2006 to an average of 30 
million more recently. Research has shown that famine and hunger are 
not necessarily caused by the lack of food, but frequently by the lack 
of access to available food, and quite often driven by conflict. 
According to a 2009 report by GAO, this locally-available food is a 
quarter to a third less expensive than in-kind food aid.
  Another important benefit of the increased flexibility this amendment 
provides is that U.S. assistance could be used to purchase the nutrient 
dense foods that are critical to pregnant mothers and their young 
children. By providing the right inputs at the right time, our 
assistance will not just alleviate hunger, but ensure that recipients 
have healthy and productive futures.
  Our constituents demand that we take a critical and judicious look at 
each and every government program to determine whether it is efficient 
and effective in reaching its objective. With the lack of agricultural 
surpluses in our country, the sole remaining objective of our food aid 
programs should be to serve the maximum number of people in need in the 
most cost effective way possible. While this amendment is a good start, 
I think we need to do more. I wish we could adopt the Administration's 
proposal--reforms that could feed an additional 10 million people.
  The crisis in the Horn of Africa, the current devastation of the 
communities in Syria, and the fragile nature of chronically hungry 
places like the Sahel region of Africa call us to be responsible 
stewards of resources, both for United States taxpayers and the people 
around the world who depend on our assistance. These reforms are 
proven. For example, monetization programs in the Democratic Republic 
of the Congo are only earning $0.51 for every dollar of commodities 
provided. The only responsible action is to find a better way to serve 
the mothers and young children that depend on these programs.
  Reducing the enormous suffering associated with hunger and famine is 
a goal rooted in the fundamental generosity of the American people and 
is the right thing to do.
  I strongly urge my colleagues to support this important amendment.