Current Marketing Thoughts
Kevin Van Trump
Kevin Van Trump has over 20 years of experience in the grain and livestock industry.
Must Read: How Foreign Policy could affect the US Farmer.
Apr 26, 2013
Your going to have a tough time swallowing this one, but members of the Obama administration have proposed ending the nearly 60-year practice of buying food from American farmers and then shipping it abroad as part of International Aid campaign....Instead they are wanting to simply send "money." The administration says the foreign countries would simply prefer the "money," that way they can buy more food from their own local farmers. Is someone kidding???
The complaint is that a lot of what we donate is consumed in shipping charges and higher prices paid to US farmers. If we simply gave them the billions in "real dollars" they could buy from their local markets, help those who are financially stressed and more quickly provide for those in need. They also said it will help them invest more money into their own agricultural practices. Just what we need, more American tax-payers dollars being sent overseas to help our competitors improving their farming practices. Am I missing something here??? Not only are the people who have their hands out now complaining about what they are receiving for FREE, but we are stupid enough to listen and actually agree with their demands.
Proponents of the plan, however, say it would enable the United States to feed about 17 million more people each year, while helping to fight poverty by buying the crops of farmers in poor countries. I understand this...but I also understand that if every politician in America simply donated a much larger portion of their wages and earnings we could also help a lot more people. Donations of US surplus food have been a hallmark of humanitarian aid efforts for years. This program has also given US farmers producing bumper crops an outlet for their goods while helping the hungry abroad. The policy first came under fire in the 1990's as humanitarian groups said donated food did little to develop farm economies elsewhere and encouraged dependence on US exports. Countries wanted "cash" aid, rather than commodities, in an effort to get assistance to needy areas faster and boost developing-world agriculture. In addition to hurting US farmers and those in the shipping industry, just how much of that "cash" will be pilfered by shady politicians in foreign lands???
Opponents to the proposals argue that the current approach which is based on donating US crops to foreign land, generates jobs and ensures that famine-struck areas have food when nearby crops aren’t sufficient. Donated US food maintains about 44,000 jobs for farmers and shippers. It’s estimated that purchases of US corn, soybeans, peas and other crops from US agribusinesses including ADM, Cargill and Bunge would see a 21% cut next year under the proposal. Before you throw Obama under the bus, keep in mind back in 2007, President George W. Bush proposed similar changes. The proposal, however, ran into stiff opposition from the potent alliance of agribusiness, shipping and charitable groups, and Congress quickly killed the plan. The fear now is that, amid tight federal budgets, reform proponents say Congress might be more receptive to changing the food aid program.
The proposal has support from a few key lawmakers, including the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, California Rep. Ed Royce. Some conservatives may support the idea due to the administration’s estimate that the shift could save $500 million over 10 years. I can't believe it, but I have even heard Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is in support of the new proposal. Supposedly he has said, "This is simply about getting more assistance to more people more quickly with fewer dollars." Sorry...it seems like it could mean a heck of a lot more than just that if approved. Unfortunately it sounds like US farmers will be suffering the consequences. Like it or not, I am for "Food Aid" not "Cash Aid."
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