Hearts & Minds - Information for ChangeSM

A Letter You Can Send
Let's make food aid work!

While the US is the largest donor of international food aid, we are also the only major donor country that “ties” the majority of our foreign aid to our own nation's products and services. This is much less effective than direct payments because of:

  • Waste - Transportation costs to ship food from the US wastes up to 50 percent of aid money. For example, it can cost up to $300 a ton to get American corn to Africa. Then, in a scheme designed to benefit wealthy corporations, it is sold at a loss, but it still competes with local farmers trying to sell their corn for $30 a ton.
  • Insecurity - Flooding poor nations with foreign food products undermines local agriculture, a primary source of income and employment. This can lead to longer term food insecurity.
  • Delays - Shipping food from the US results in long waits. Even in emergency situations, food aid takes up to five months to be delivered.

There is understandable concern about the risk associated with direct payments, however other donor countries have untied their food aid programs with much success. Requiring transparency and distributing the food directly to local communities can bypass central governments' corruption and bureaucracy.

You can advocate direct payments so our foreign aid works much more effectively.

Spread the Word!

Write to Your Congressperson!

Write to Your Senator!

Write to President Obama! If you have trouble with this link, his address is:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

You can also use the following letter as a model.

If you have time, politicians consider handwritten letters even more effective. Writing by hand shows that you think this issue is worth more of your time:

Your Name
Your Street Address, Apt. Number (if any)
City, State, Zip Code
(optional) Your Phone Number

(Today's Date)

The Honorable ____(Full name of Your Representative or Senator)
Washington, DC (zip code)
(Office addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and other contact information for your representatives can be found here: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/)

Dear Representative (or President or Senator) ___ (add their full name),

The United States is the largest donor of international food aid.  We are also the only major donor country requiring that the food must come from the United States. 

This method brings major disadvantages:

  • Waste - Up to 50% of donated dollars are used for shipping the food to recipient countries.
  • Undermining local markets - Many of the world's poorest farmers and farm workers suffer drastically reduced profits and job losses when heavily subsidized US food floods their markets. This prevents successful farming which can be a major source of income, employment and long term food security.
  • Delays - Food shipped from the US is often delayed up to five months, while people go hungry.

Simple cash funding presents the most cost effective method of agricultural foreign aid. Funds can be distributed directly and transparently to those who need help most, avoiding central governments' corruption and bureaucracy.

Now is the time
Agricultural committees in the House and Senate are starting to draft the next farm bill.  This is a window of opportunity to modify our foreign policy to far more effective, efficient and fair direct payments.

Thank you for considering an important change for the 2012 Farm Bill: Please support buying food aid from the lowest cost, most efficient sources.

Please let me know what you are doing about this urgently needed reform.

Thank you,

(your signature)

(your typewritten name)

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by Alicia Farag, Hearts & Minds volunteer
Copyrights: Entire website 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/action/6.htm online December 8, 2011, latest changes December 22, 2011


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