Groups Urge President to Sustain Food Assistance Programs

Shortly after hearing from a group of 21 Senators - President Obama received a letter from 70 farm, humanitarian, shipping and labor groups regarding rumors the administration's draft fiscal year 2014 budget would eliminate funding for international food assistance programs. It's been reported the Obama Administration's budget - to be released in March - would replace funding for the programs with a smaller amount of money for a program to buy commodities for food aid on international markets. The groups urged President Obama to sustain funding for the current Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs - expressing strong opposition to proposals to eliminate or drastically reduce program funding or shift the resources to overseas commodity procurement. The groups wrote that food aid programs have enjoyed strong bipartisan support for nearly 60 years because they work. They went on to say the U.S. has the largest and most diverse, reliable and effective food assistance program in the world. They said Food for Peace and Food for Progress form the backbone of those efforts.

According to the letter - the current programs are well-honed and dependable systems for identifying the appropriate commodities for targeted populations and for procuring and shipping these commodities. The letter goes on to say the transparency, accountability and reliability of this system are the result of decades of cooperation through a uniquely sustainable public-private partnership among thousands of committed Americans at faith-based and other non-governmental organizations - and in agriculture, labor, industry and government. In addition - the groups noted that growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transporting nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home.

The American Soybean Association and National Farmers Union were among the many groups that signed onto the letter to the President.

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