FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2012—At a time of growing need around the world, Catholic Relief Services is deeply troubled by cuts made to a key international food aid program – Food for Peace – by a House Appropriations panel this morning.
“While CRS understands the tight fiscal constraints Congress must operate in, these cuts are counterproductive,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS Senior Vice-President of Advocacy. “Modest investments in anti-hunger programs actually save money, by building up hungry people’s ability to feed themselves, so they won’t need more expensive emergency assistance in the future.”
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee slashed more than 20% of the funding for Food for Peace, a program that provides both long-term and emergency international food assistance. In dollar terms, over $300 million was cut from the current $1.466 billion level. As a result of this cut, up to 8.5 million people will no longer be served by Food for Peace programs. Additionally, the panel added a provision that would allow the Government to divert up to 80% of Food for Peace funding dedicated to long-term anti-hunger programs for emergency use.
O’Keefe pointed out that funding for Food for Peace has not been this low since 2004, when commodity prices were much lower. This level of funding could purchase 2.7 million metric tons of commodities in 2004 but less than half of that amount today.
The provision passed by the subcommittee allowing the diversion of 80% of the funds from long-term hunger programs would reduce them to $80 million, or less. Developmental programs designed to boost agricultural production and improve nutrition in regions like the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, as well as in key countries like Haiti, South Sudan, Bangladesh, and Guatemala, would be impacted and some would disappear.
“We must continue to invest in these countries and regions,” said O’Keefe. “Funding Food for Peace’s long-term anti-hunger programs today means lower emergency needs in these places tomorrow. We have already seen evidence of the success of these programs in countries like Ethiopia, and it would be a tragedy to cut the legs off of programs that have proven to be both effective and sustainable.”
This is the first step in the House appropriation process. The bill will likely be considered by the full Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.