Oxfam reaction to Senate Farm Bill passage

By bgrossmancohen

Share this story:

In response to the passage of the Farm Bill in the US Senate, Gawain Kripke, director of policy and research for Oxfam America, said:

“The Senate Farm Bill takes positive steps to reform international food aid programs. We commend Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Senator Roberts for their leadership to ensure that the tiny sliver of Farm Bill funds that go to international food aid has the greatest impact possible. These programs save millions of lives, and improving them will save many more. We urge leaders in the House of Representatives to take up these modest, bipartisan reforms to cut waste and help save lives.

“Overall, the Farm Bill continues to create serious problems by subsidizing big agribusiness at the expense of poor farmers and taxpayers. We are encouraged by the overwhelming passage of Senator Grassley’s amendment to limit payments on marketing loans; and the Senate bill’s elimination of countercyclical payments and higher loan rates offer bright spots in an otherwise uninspiring picture. Marketing loans and deficiency payments are the most market-distorting commodity subsidies. By limiting proceeds and loan rates, the Senate bill protects tax dollars and contributes to a fairer market for poor farmers in developing countries.

“A major outstanding issue that the Senate Farm Bill does not resolve is the violation of WTO agreements, as established by the cotton case brought by Brazil.  Unless the final Farm Bill does more to reform cotton subsidies, the controversy will continue and could result in economic retaliation by Brazil, as authorized by the WTO.”

Grassley amendment #2167 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SP02167:

Food Aid reforms in the Senate bill include:

1. The pilot program created in the 2008 Farm Bill to study the effectiveness of purchasing food aid locally and regionally will be continued as a full program with modestly increased funding to $40 million per year.

2. Efforts are made to reduce the “monetization” of food aid whereby food aid is dumped on developing country markets, a wasteful way to raise funds for long term development projects.  The bill cuts the level of funding for “monetization” which will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and make aid programs more effective.

/ENDS