Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Rouzer: Joint Hearing: International Food Aid Programs

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Washington, November 17, 2015 | comments
Remarks as prepared:

I want to thank each of you for joining us this morning as we continue our review of international food aid programs. To date, we have heard from USDA and USAID officials charged with implementing these vital programs; we have heard from those tasked with program oversight and accountability about what is working and what could be improved; we have heard from those producing and processing the food used in our food aid programs; and we have heard from on-the-ground implementers. Today, we will hear from those who are tasked with shipping that aid to those in need around the globe.

To that end, we are holding this hearing in collaboration with our colleagues from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I want to thank my friend Chairman Duncan Hunter, along with our colleagues on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, for their willingness to examine these issues with us.

While the agriculture and maritime communities have worked hand-in-hand for the past 60 years to deliver food to hungry people around the world, the vast majority of government-impelled cargo is military hardware. However, with the volume of military cargo declining, the availability of other government-impelled cargo—like food aid—has assumed greater significance in sustaining a viable U.S. merchant marine industry.

Given this reality, I remain perplexed at USAID’s continued push to move away from in-kind donations in exchange for more cash-based assistance. I’m particularly concerned by the fact that they attempted to achieve this by driving a wedge between the agriculture and maritime communities, while using scarce food aid funding to do it. I look forward to exploring this and confirming where things currently stand with our witnesses today. Given the interconnectedness of our maritime security and food aid programs, undermining one ultimately jeopardizes both.

As we move forward, we must work to maximize cooperation and program efficiency throughout all sectors to reach the maximum number of people in need, but we must do so in a way that does not jeopardize the long term support and accomplishments these programs have achieved.

Again, thank you all for being here today. I now yield to Ranking Member Costa for any remarks he would like to make.
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