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Proposed cuts to international food aid are irresponsible, short-sighted

June 7, 2012

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Mercy Corps Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy Andrea Koppel expressed grave disappointment with the cuts to international food aid that were proposed yesterday by the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee. The House draft bill dramatically underfunds food assistance through the Food for Peace program slashing funding by 22% from last year’s enacted level.

Ms. Koppel issued this statement:

“At at time when a major food crisis is brewing in Sudan, the Horn of Africa is struggling to recover from a famine, and the Sahel is facing a worsening crisis, the cuts proposed by the Sub-Committee are deeply irresponsible. The proposed cuts would both gut emergency aid and severely undermine funding for programs to prevent new food crises. The level of cuts would eliminate funding that feeds and supports more than 8.5 million vulnerable people around the globe - some of whom are already on the brink of starvation.”

“A portion of this funding also helps the poorest of the poor build resiliency against new crises, preventing them from falling into starvation. This funding is a wise US investment, because it reduces the need for far costlier emergency response further down the line. Without critical resiliency programs in place, we will continue to see wide-scale humanitarian disasters such as those happening right now in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. The funding that is at stake has the power to reduce future emergency interventions.”

“We recognize that these proposed cuts are the result of difficult choices during challenging economic times, but international food aid comprises just a fraction of a fraction of the nation’s budget. Slashing this puts millions of people at risk of starvation and does virtually nothing to put a dent in the nation’s deficit. A strong majority of Americans – 65% - believe that the US should take the lead in achieving international goals to reduce hunger, poverty and disease and cuts to this accounts dramatically undercut the US’s ability to address global hunger.”

“We urge the House to restore funding for these critical programs to the level passed under the last year of the Bush administration of $1.84 billion in the Full Committee mark-up of the bill, and to remove the provision that would undermine funding for crisis prevention and resiliency programs. By slashing international food aid programs, not only are we putting millions of lives in the balance, we are abdicating long-standing US political and moral leadership of efforts to combat global hunger.”