20 March 2013

Like the Bee Gees Song, Feed the Future is Stayin' Alive

Rather than provide food in response to droughts or work around governments, Feed the Future represent’s a commitment to working with governments.

While the program took a few years to get off the ground, and is probably not all that well known to the public, it is a favorite of USAID Administrator Raj Shah – and also a go-to program budget hawks now want to cut back.

Agriculture programs have been losing federal funding over the past few years already. The House Budget Committee recommended to cut Feed the Future entirely last year. Budget negotiations come for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) come in the wake of sequestration. The House Budget Committee’s proposal involves a 7% cut to the International Affairs budget.

Yet Feed the Future has managed to survive.

While the Republican controlled house tries to rectify a budget with the Democrat controlled Senate that wants to add 9% more to the International Affairs budget, Feed the Future appears to have won a second life. But the uncertainty that looms over the budge cut discussion may cause harm.

“When we aren’t clear about our intentions, it creates uncertainty,” explained Gregory Adams, Director of Aid Effectiveness for Oxfam America to Humanosphere. “If you are delaying your annoucement of plans, you leave farmers in the lurch. Many will miss a planting season because they do not know when aid will arrive.”

The House budget committee, led by policy superstar Paul Ryan, called for the complete elimination of Feed the Future in its FY13 budget recommendations.
While addressing the issues of poverty and malnutrition around the globe is important, the U.S. Government’s fiscal condition does not permit the expansion of U.S. foreign assistance initiatives, especially ones that overlap with existing programs.
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