Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member David Rouzer Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Public Hearing: “The Implementation of Farm Bill International Food Assistance and Development Programs”

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Washington, December 10, 2019 | comments
Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to hearing your testimony regarding international food assistance and development programs authorized in the Farm Bill and subsequent implementation by both USDA and USAID.

This is our first hearing on international food assistance and agricultural development this Congress. The food we deliver and development activities we promote are critical tools that feed people, build agricultural capacity, and foster goodwill between the United States and our friends around the world. This hearing today allows us an opportunity to review how the changes made in the Farm Bill have been executed thus far.

American farmers play an important role in producing the crops that are delivered through in-kind food aid. A bag of rice, wheat flour, or any one of dozens of other products grown by U.S. farmers is a powerful symbol of the productivity and generosity of America. But it is not just farmers who are involved.

In addition to the fine farm families and food processors here in the U.S., food assistance and international agricultural development rely on partnerships among USDA, USAID, the shippers and associated transportation industries, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations such as the World Food Program, host country governments, other donor governments, third-party auditors, and American volunteers, among many others. This coalition of participation and support is what allows American assistance to fulfill such an important need around the world, and it is the rich history of U.S. generosity through in-kind food aid that makes this coalition possible.

Food for Peace – an example of this important coalition in action – celebrated its 65th anniversary this year. Many other programs like Food for Progress, McGovern-Dole Food for Education, the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, and Farmer to Farmer have also built similar success. These programs help those in other countries produce their own food, learn more about production agriculture, and in the case of McGovern-Dole, encourages school attendance and learning by delivering a nutritious meal. This is how, over time, these programs lay the groundwork for individuals and families in impoverished countries to stand on their own feet.

In recent years, particularly since 2010, the U.S. has provided locally and regionally procured food and cash-based assistance in addition to in-kind food aid. Make no mistake: these are important tools in the tool kit of food aid delivery. There are certain circumstances, such as during conflict or where local markets are well-functioning, where U.S. agricultural commodities may not be the best option of assistance. But overwhelmingly, in many cases, U.S. agricultural products are in fact the best option.

It is U.S. farm products, covered with an American flag and delivered in countries of need, that are the true backbone of the assistance the United States provides. It is critical American agriculture in-kind assistance remain as that backbone for years to come.

Thank you again to our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to your testimony.
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