CARE and Food Aid

CARE’s announcement today that it will halt using U.S. food aid in its programs overseas is a courageous, controversial step but a step in the right direction. The issue is controversial because CARE, and some other nonprofits, say the food aid undermines local production and undercuts the market price for locally produced food. But the policy in the U.S. is used to provide income to U.S. farmers for their over production. It benefits U.S. farmers while also providing food to poor people overseas.
The nonprofits receive cash for administering the programs and paying local staff and they have used these funds to support programs to lift people from poverty. But CARE says the program makes nonprofits contractors on behalf of the U.S. government, which is not their primary mission. There will continue to be vocal debate about this issue from all sides with many points of view. But the action of CARE is a courageous act of principle that will cost the organization substantial dollars. It’s rare to see this in today’s world of compromise and I hope CARE is able to replace the dollars and also to contribute to public understanding of the role of food aid in U.S. policy. And ultimately, I hope the action by CARE leads to a reassessment of policy to determine how best to help people lift themselves from poverty. If it leads to that discussion, CARE’s action will have had a positive benefit for all concerned.

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